Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education today received a briefing on the intervention plan to support Vuwani schools in Limpopo in light of the unrest in the area.
The Committee has expressed its concern with the recurring community protest in the Vuwani area, which has once again spilled over into the education sector. Acting Committee Chairperson Ms Pinky Mokoto urged the Department of Basic Education to follow up regarding previous resolutions taken in the committee regarding the actions of committee and South African Human Rights Commission recommendations.
She cautioned that the Department of Basic Education cannot be expected to stop the violence, as it does not originate in the education systems, but rather due to other matters residing in other departments. “This protest does not emanate from schools or the education sector,” she explained.
The Department of Basic Education indicated in its presentation that schools in Vuwani were affected by the shut-down from 4 September, resulting in Grade 12 students not writing preliminary examinations. As this period was dedicated to writing Term 3 formal assessment tasks, not much teaching and learning has been lost thus far.
There are 26 secondary schools and 52 primary schools in the area, collectively accommodating 29 066 learners, of which 1 657 are Grade 12 learners. The schools mainly affected by the disruptions are in the Vhuronga 1 and 2 education circuits. The Department indicated its concern that Grade 12 learners are supposed to start National Senior Certificate examinations on 16 October 2017.
The Department indicated that bringing the protest action to an end is beyond its control and intervention is based on the assumption that sooner rather than later the contentious issues will be addressed. “As soon normality reigns, three issues will have to be addressed immediately: SBA moderation, completion of Trial/Term 3 assessments for all grades and catch-up to cover any subject content that could not be covered.” A meeting with unions, sister departments and community members will be conducted in order to communicate the intervention.
The Committee heard that the proposed plan for Grade 12 learners includes a curriculum catch-up plan for all learners, additional support for top-performing Grade 12 learners and the rescheduling of preliminary examinations. The Committee further resolved to meet with the relevant Portfolio Committees, including the Portfolio Committees on Police, Intelligence, Arts and Culture as well as Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
The Committee also received a briefing on readiness for the 2017 end-of-year exams. The Committee heard that a total of 798 289 learners, both full- and part-time, are registered for this year’s National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations, a decline of 37 838 learners from 2016. Various measures are being introduced to ensure the security of examination papers in all provinces, especially in those provinces that have previously experienced examination irregularities.
The Committee heard that monitoring of the current Grade 12 cohort of learners over the past two years has shown that it is significantly smaller than previous cohorts. The Department of Basic Education assured the Committee that based on the profile of 2017 Grade 12 learners and the interventions and support provided to them, it is expected that the NSC results for 2017 should improve, despite changes in certain subjects.
The Committee commended the Department for getting the systems across the nine provinces in place in order to prepare learners for final exams.
Issued by Parliamentary Communication Services on behalf of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Pinky Mokoto