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'I've sort of given up': Matrics feel even more pressure after one-week break

Grade 12 learners returned to school on Monday after a one-week break declared by the president.
Grade 12 learners returned to school on Monday after a one-week break declared by the president.
Image: SAMORN TARAPAN/123rf.com

After an unexpected week's break, matrics say they are feeling more pressured as they head rapidly towards the end of the year.

Not only is there the pressure of life during a global pandemic, pupils who spoke to SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE on Monday said there was additional stress because of losing even more of the school year due to the one-week shutting down of schools last week.

A 19-year-old Bongani Lubisi, from Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, said the break was unnecessary as it only brought more pressure to bear.

He said although he had been doing some schooling at home, his living conditions made this hard.

“It is hard to study at home, especially now when most people are not working and sitting at home. It puts more pressure on us. Neighbours are always playing loud music and making noise because everyone is at home,” he said.

“It gets worse when you see your parents stressing because of losing work. Their stress gets transferred to us.”

Lubisi said he didn't feel ready to sit for an exam.

“I think they should try to extend the year because Covid-19 has messed up everything. Everything is just mixed up,” he said.

Covid-19 has messed up everything. Everything is just mixed up.
Bongani Lubisi

Tendani Nethengwe, another matriculant from Atteridgeville, said that just eight learners were present in her class today - out of a total of 19.

The 18-year-old said she was not excited to go back to school.

“I wasn’t excited about going back to school. I have sort of given up ... I was scared of going back to school but there is nothing that I can do. I just have to protect myself,” she said.

Nethengwe said she was ready to write some subjects but wasn't sure about others.

“I have lost hope that I will make it. I am just going to school. I just wake up and go join other learners,” she said.

In a statement released on Saturday, the basic education department announced that the school year would finish in mid-December, and would not be rolled over to 2021.

Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said there were 163 school days left for teachers and 156 days for pupils.

The school year for pupils in grades R to 11 is expected to be completed on December 15. To separate the third and fourth school terms, there will be a one-week break from October 26 to October 30.

According to him, the 2020 matric final exams would be completed by December 15 and marking would be concluded by January 22. Matriculants are expected to receive their results on February 23 2021.

Mhlanga said the new school year will commence on January 25 for teachers, and for pupils a few days later.