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Teacher unions and pupils' body say the lockdown, load shedding, July unrest and LGE made 2021 the ‘most disruptive year’ for Grade 12s

A comparison of the 2021 and 2020 National Senior Certificate matric results for the whole of South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal. | THOBEKA NGEMA

A comparison of the 2021 and 2020 National Senior Certificate matric results for the whole of South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal. | THOBEKA NGEMA

Published Jan 21, 2022


DURBAN - TEACHER unions and Congress of SA Students (Cosas) have described 2021 as the most disruptive year for Grade 12 pupils.

The unions and the pupils’ body were speaking ahead of the release of the matric results on Thursday night.

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Cosas president Douglas Ngobeni told the Daily News on Thursday that the year was worse than all other years for Grade 12 pupils, saying no Grade 12 pupil ever experienced problems like the Class of 2021.

Ngobeni said people comparing results, expected to be announced on Thursday night, with previous results would put pupils under unnecessary pressure.

He said the schooling rotational system severely affected learning and teaching in schools where a certain number of pupils had to stay at home to make way for others in order to keep up with social distancing as required by the Disaster Management Act, which was invoked by the government as one of the measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“2021 was a bad year for us and we don’t think it is fair to compare our results with previous years. Despite that, we are optimistic because of the effort put in by our pupils studying during the weekends to catch up lost time.

“We know the catch-up was not enough but it was better than doing nothing because we managed to get something out of the little time we had.”

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) chief executive Thirona Moodley said that as much as her union had wanted to be optimistic it had to be realistic that getting good results under such difficult circumstances was an unfair expectation.

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Moodley said Covid-19 disrupted learning and teaching, adding that before complaining about the matric results people would have to consider pupils who had to isolate 14 days, as well as time spent in hospital after contracting the virus.

She said that even those who were lucky not to be infected had to isolate after their family members tested positive.

Moodley added that it should also not be forgotten that many teachers spent time fighting the virus instead of being in class teaching.

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She further stated that most Grade 12 work was usually covered in Grade 11 and with the pandemic hitting the country in 2020, pupils who sat for the exam last year had already been affected by the loss of learning time in Grade 11 when the country implemented the hard lockdown.

“The stop-and-go scenario we experienced for two years was too much for our kids. Their minds were disrupted by these circumstances.”

However, National Teachers’ Union secretary Cynthia Barnes said 2021 was better than 2020 when Covid-19 started, saying teachers had learnt to live side-by-side with the virus.

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She commended teachers who also taught on weekends and in the evenings. Apart from lockdown, load shedding and the July unrest, the local government election was another factor that contributed to learning and teaching disruptions.

Daily News