Matric pupils pay the price for protests
THREE hundred-and-sixty Matrics from the Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality in the Northern Cape have been studying from 7am to 9pm every day, trying to catch up on classes lost during violent strikes in the area.
The matrics are attending a study camp at a resort in Barkly West, set up by the Department of Basic Education, to catch up almost a month-and-a-half worth of studying lost when protesters in the area forced 64 schools to close in June.
The protests caused about 16,000 pupils, from Grade R to matric, to languish at home.
Northern Cape department of education spokesman Sydney Stander said officials had got 24 schools to reopen. The rest are still closed.
As part of the catch-up plan for final exams that start on October 22, the department has sent 360 matrics from 10 schools to a camping site, where they are drilled on their subjects 14 hours a day — with regular relaxation breaks in- between.
Stander said the pupils had been there for the past month- and-a-half, and are receiving specialised education in all of the matric subjects.
They will stay at the camp until the situation in their communities improves.
“There are 29 educators to make up lost time,” said Stander, adding that the matrics were being looked after by “guardian” parents, taking care of the cooking, laundry and security.
Asked whether the pupils will be ready for the examination, Stander said: “Everything is running smoothly and we are confident that our kids will make it.”
A ministerial task team was dispatched to the area on Tuesday.
Education Ministry spokes-man Panyaza Lesufi, who is with the team, said: “It’s a very sad situation when kids can’t go to school.”
He said the task team was satisfied with the matric camp.
“That is the best the province could do under the circumstances. It is something that they didn’t anticipate, so it means there is no budget for the arrangement that was made.”
In addition to the camp, Lesufi said, they will ask churches to assist in the mediation process with the community.
The Northern Cape premier’s spokeswoman, Bronwyn Thomas-Abrahams, said the situation in the community is “still tense”.
“But provincial government is convinced that, through its various interventions, normality and calm will soon be restored,” said Thomas-Abrahams.
Stander said the camp is the first leg of a “broad intervention programme”.
The second leg will involve Grade 1 to Grade 11 pupils, who will have to forfeit their September holidays to attend classes. They will also have to attend afternoon and weekend classes.