Teachers blame lack of resources

Poorly performing schools in KwaZulu-Natal have blamed a lack of resources for dismal matric results.

The teachers claim that the national curriculum statement (NCS) requires adequate resources to produce better results, while such resources were not available.

The low morale among pupils was cited as another barrier, compounded by social problems such as poverty, abuse and orphanage caused by HIV-Aids.

These were some of the concerns raised when MEC for education Senzo Mchunu met Grade 12 teachers and principals in the Empangeni district.

Mchunu on Monday also visited five poorly performing schools in the district, including Nzuza High School in Gingindlovu, where only one pupil passed matric last year.

"My visit is not to crack the whip but to find out about the problems that prevent these schools from performing," said Mchunu.

Not far from Nzuza High School is Zimeme High School, whose matric pass rate dropped from 100percent in 2003 to 20percent last year.

Teachers said the drop in the pass rate came after the introduction of the new curriculum, which they said required resources such as a science laboratory, library, and textbooks.

One teacher pointed out that, unlike the old curriculum, the NCS requires that a child should have at least access to a radio at home and read at least one newspaper a day, but the community from which their pupils come from are so poor that their parents cannot afford any of these mediums of communication.

But Mchunu said although the issue of resources and infrastructure still remained a major challenge, he had established during his visit that pupils over the years and before the introduction of the new curriculum were doing their subjects in the standard grade.

He said with the introduction of the new curriculum, pupils were forced to do all subjects in the higher grade.

"For such pupils this is like climbing a mountain, where they have to up their standard," he said.

Mchunu also visited Siyabonga High School, which achieved a 16percent pass rate last year.

Many of the pupils come from child-headed homes, and others live with their grannies. He promised to come up with plans to improve the results.

"The first step is to ensure there are classes on weekends and during holidays."