Re­peat­ing grades is not the an­swer to dis­rup­tion

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS -

THE DEPART­MENT of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion in the North­ern Cape an­nounced in Septem­ber that Ku­ru­man pupils will re­peat their grades next year, ex­cept for ma­tric­u­lants.

The rea­son: Teach­ing and learn­ing didn’t take place for three months.

Spokesman for the depart­ment, Syd­ney Stander, said: “De­spite nu­mer­ous ap­peals to par­ents and com­mu­ni­ties, school­ing came to a stand­still for the past three months. We are at a stage where it is not re­al­is­ti­cally pos­si­ble to do any­thing with Grades R to 11, ex­cept to al­low them to re­turn to re­peat the full year in 2015.”

For those who are un­fa­mil­iar with the pol­i­tics there, this is what hap­pened. Protest­ing res­i­dents pre­vented chil­dren from go­ing to school. They wanted the gov­ern­ment to build a tarred road. Res­i­dents protested for the same last year.

I ex­pected the na­tion to make noise about or op­pose the depart­ment’s decision to make Ku­ru­man pupils stay back. I was wrong. Clearly we don’t sub­scribe to the no­tion “an in­jury to one is an in­jury to all”.

Ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, pupils didn’t turn up for their exams. They felt it was fu­tile. They would be re­peat­ing their grades any­way. So that means schools are closed al­ready for pupils and teach­ers are twid­dling their thumbs.

It seems the depart­ment didn’t even bother im­ple­ment­ing the re­cov­ery pro­gramme.

Pupils could have used the Septem­ber school hol­i­days and week­ends to cover the work they couldn’t cover due to the dis­rup­tive protest. But, clearly, the depart­ment had other ideas.

I can bet my Zim­bab­wean dol­lar that the depart­ment of ed­u­ca­tion won’t make pupils re­peat their grades in Gaut­eng. When the com­mu­nity protest in Bekkers­dal turned vi­o­lent and dis­rupted school­ing, the depart­ment took ma­tric­u­lants to a se­cret camp. And they were able to write their fi­nal exams, in­clud­ing other grades, and passed well. Why didn’t the same hap­pen in Ku­ru­man?

It is un­fair for in­no­cent kids to suf­fer for the sins of their par­ents who have their pri­or­i­ties mixed up. The gov­ern­ment should em­ploy fair prac­tice for all pupils. If it al­lows matrics in Ku­ru­man to write exams, it should do the same for other grades.

Thabile Mange

Kag­iso, Mo­gale City

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