EXAM COUNTDOWN

The countdown to the start of the National Senior Certificate exams has begun as KwaZulu-Natal's third school term got under way this week.

The countdown to the start of the National Senior Certificate exams has begun as KwaZulu-Natal's third school term got under way this week.

MEC for education Senzo Mchunu is leading his department's matric intervention programme across the province with unannounced visits to underperforming schools.

Mchunu says his focus is to get first hand information on how these schools are managed.

The province achieved a 57percent pass rate last year - the lowest since 2003 when 75percent passed.

Mchunu has urged matriculants to work hard as they have only a few months left before the final exams.

"There's no magic wand. Hard work, focus and determination are the only formulas for success," he said.

The National Teachers' Union (Natu) says an improvement in the results will be impossible if schools are underresourced.

Natu's Allen Thompson says Mchunu's intervention will bear little fruit if the pupils and teachers are still forced to learn and teach at schools where the conditions were not "conducive to learning and were under-resourced".

Thompson said during his visits to schools yesterday he was disappointed to find that schools in rural areas were still without running water, proper toilets and sanitation.

Mchunu has been encouraging teachers and pupils to conduct classes on weekends and on holidays as part of his intervention programme.

He applauded schools that have put in an extra effort to make this possible.

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