Most schools have had to postpone until next term

LIVING WAGE: Civil servants in Gauteng marched to Premier Mbhazima Shilowa's office this week. Pic. Lucky Nxumalo. 13/06/07. © Sowetan.
LIVING WAGE: Civil servants in Gauteng marched to Premier Mbhazima Shilowa's office this week. Pic. Lucky Nxumalo. 13/06/07. © Sowetan.

Sowetan Reporters

Sowetan Reporters

The national public service strike has not only resulted in schools closing down, but has also forced authorities to postpone mid-year matric examinations in some provinces.

Education departments in Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo have decided to postpone all exams until next term. Gauteng and Mpumalanga had not yet set the dates of the exams, hoping the strike would end soon.

Eastern Cape has shelved exams until July 23, and a decision on new dates in KwaZulu-Natal will be taken once education officials there have discussed the issue with relevant stakeholders nationally.

The Eastern Cape Education Department has decided to postpone mid-year matric tests until the third term.

Loyiso Pulumani, provincial department spokesman, said the department had prepared examination papers for schools where pupils scored below 60percent in the last year's final examinations.

Pulumani said it was unfortunate that the strike had not been resolved yet.

"Noting that, in terms of the 2007 academic calendar, we are almost at the tail-end of the second term, the department has resolved to reschedule tests until July 23 and we will issue a revised timetable," Pulumani said.

The department had urged all teachers and pupils to use the "holidays" to prepare for their examinations for next term.

Pulumani apologised to pupils and parents on behalf of the department.

Several teacher unions and parents in KwaZulu-Natal have called for the July holidays to be scrapped to make up for lost time. Unions said they would consider teaching during the holidays, but only if education authorities did not cut their salaries while they were on strike.

KwaZulu-Natal education spokesman Christi Naude said no decision had been taken on the holiday situation and this would have to be discussed at national level with all stakeholders.

"But in the light of the ongoing public sector strike, we have decided to postpone the mid-year grade 12 and other exams in the province until further notice.

"We resolved to reschedule exams because the atmosphere is not conducive to our pupils writing their tests. We appeal to all our learners to use their time off as study time and not as a holiday," Naude said.

Some schools in Mpumalanga could also not write their mid-year examinations because of the strike.

The provincial Education Department said those schools that did not write would have to reschedule their exams.

"There are schools that continued to write the mid-year exams, but others that did not," said spokesman Hlahla Ngwenya.

He could not say how many schools did not write.

He said that would only be known after the strike had ended.

In Gauteng too, the Education Department said some pupils were able to write their exams and others were stopped mid-way by strikers.

"Every day we have to shift the dates for the examinations.

"We just hope a settlement is reached very soon, so we can come up with contingency plans to enable pupils to write their exams," said Kate Bapela, Gauteng Education Department spokesman.