A STANDOFF between the KZN Department of Education and the SA Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) has put the internal exams for Grades 8 to 11 exams at risk.
On Monday, several schools in Durban and surrounding areas sent out letters to parents informing them that the exams would be halted until the department paid outstanding monies to schools for the norms and standards. This is the money that schools use for supplies such as ink and paper.
Chairperson for the Parents Association in KZN, Vee Gani said: “We have been inundated with calls from parents who received the letters. There are concerns over the Grade 8 to 11 internal exams, particularly for the Grade 9’s who will start their senior courses next year, and the Grade 11s, ahead of their matric year.
"While they would have used their mid-year results to apply to tertiary institutions, they would at some stage need to submit their final results. If there is a delay in getting the exams started, there will be implications down the line.”
He said a few schools had advised parents to keep their children at home until they were told otherwise.
“This means pupils will also miss out on important contact teaching time,” said Gani.
KZN provincial secretary for SADTU, Nomarashiya Caluza, said they did not call for schools to stop the exams, but had asked their members to withdraw from all internal examinations. This excludes the matric exams.
“Schools do not have resources. There is no money. They can't buy ink and paper to make copies of the exam papers. It is an impossible situation. We will withdraw from the internal exams until the department gives the school's money to administer the exam papers internally,” said Caluza.
“We marched to the KZN Department of Education offices on October 13. Their response to our demands has come back and is not satisfactory. So we took a decision to hold pickets across the province (from Monday) to ensure that the department pays up,” added Caluza.
She said they met with the department on Monday.
“We appreciate that the department is still engaging with us. However, they have not given us a time frame for the payments. This will dictate when the internal examinations can start. We will continue picketing until then,” she said.
The KZN Department of Education had not commented at the time of going to press.
However, in a statement on its Facebook page on Monday, the department said it was engaging with the union over its memorandum.
“The department has provided details on its current financial situation. We are in constant engagement with the Provincial and National Treasury with the aim of finding a solution to the financial challenges which have negatively impacted the education sector in the province. We have received a confirmation letter of allocation of an adjusted budget to our department, even before the SADTU march. We are now undergoing processes to distribute the funds to the schools as well as for the payment of 1.5% pay progression,” said the statement.