Sadtu expresses fears about state of schools

a classroom of children wearing masks during a lesson.

Sadtu also maintained standardised testing would be pointless and recommends the department rather look to assessments taken during school based teaching. Picture: African News Agency (ANA).

With millions of learners back at school, the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has expressed its concerns over South African schools.

The union is concerned about the availability of teachers and the ability of schools to be able to organise the return of students.

The system is anticipated to be strained with both because of the numbers or students coming in and the processes involved in admitting the number of pupils.

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Spacing, in terms of social distancing, is also anticipated to be a problem. The national executive of the committee has expressed its concern about a combined teacher school readiness assessment which indicates that 11% of schools were still struggling to come up with a viable timetable.

This is due to the limited amount of space and the availability of teachers.

According to the union, these factors should have been resolved during the break on July 27. 

Sadtu also feels that matrics would not be prepared sufficiently for the NSC exams because of the on/off closure of schools. The union said it was also concerned about the situation in disadvantaged communities where there had been minimal support during lockdown.

In view of these discrepancies, Sadtu wants the Department of Basic Education to push back the start date of the exams from November 5 to November 26.

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By doing so, learners would have more time in which to prepare for exams.

The combining of June and November exams would place additional pressure on all those concerned, not only on matrics who have an additional workload to catch up on, but for the markers of these exams.

Additional markers would be needed to make their way through the papers and the process would take time, raising questions about the reliability and quality of the marking process, it said.

Reports have also called into question the advisability of cutting down on the amount of work to be taken by grades 7 to 9 due to a large chunk of the year having been lost.

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Satdtu fears that trimming may cause already under-resourced schools to drop some subjects altogether.

The dropping of subjects would limit subject choices of students when the time comes to enter the FET phase of their education. 

Sadtu also maintained standardised testing would be pointless and recommends the department rather look to assessments taken during school-based teaching.