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Teachers In KZN Fear Staff Shortages, Inadequate Time & Congested Timetable Could Lead To Poor Pupil Performance

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Teachers in KwaZulu-Natal are fearful that pupils will not do well at the end of the year due to inadequate time to prepare for exams, a shortage of teachers and a “congested” timetable.

They said their schools, just two months before the start of the exams, were still facing challenges, with one principal saying his school was “in a crisis with new problems emerging every day”.

The Department of Basic Education released the timetable on Wednesday. The May/June 2020 examination will be written concurrently with the October/November 2020 examination.

In a statement, the department said all candidates who were scheduled to write the Senior Certificate examination in May/June and October/November would be allowed to write this examination. It would commence officially on Thursday, November 5, 2020, and finish on Tuesday, December 15.

“More than 1.1 million candidates are expected to sit, and every registered candidate will receive an admission letter, by end September 2020, listing the subjects for which they have registered and the examination centre at which they are to write,” the statement said.

Principals, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the timetable meant nothing as there were many problems affecting Grade 12 pupils that had yet to be resolved.

A high school principal, who declined to be named, said: “We cannot expect the Grade 12 pupils to do well at the end of the year.

“The department has not addressed the issue of teachers with comorbidities. I have about six teachers who teach Grade 12, four of them did not return to school. I had to get a junior teacher, who does not even teach some of the subjects, to assist these pupils.

“The delivery of a junior teacher is markedly different from that of a seasoned teacher who knows what to say to pupils and how to handle lessons. We are teaching through WhatsApp, how effective is that? I have attendance problems, the moment there is suspicion of a case, people stay away. There could be 15 pupils not at school at one time.”

Another principal said: “I am looking at the amount of work that needs to be done between now and the examinations, and I am not confident that the pupils will cope.

“If this had been a normal year where people had been in school, it would have been possible, but right now, teachers are providing the work and pupils have to do some of the work at home.”

The timetable shows that the first three days of the exams would be on languages; after that they write paper one on mathematics and technical mathematics. They get a break, and when they return after a religious holiday, they write paper two of these subjects.

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