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Matric pupils' attendance at Gauteng, Mpumalanga schools 'pleasing'

The future of the academic year for school pupils remains uncertain.
The future of the academic year for school pupils remains uncertain.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said on Friday he was pleased with the turnout of matric pupils in the first week back after a break in schooling.

He said attendance was 76% by Wednesday.

During the provincial Covid-19 command centre update, Lesufi said he was concerned about matric pupils who had not returned to school.

“We are quite pleased with pupil attendance. The numbers are increasing. We started with 56% on Monday, which was worrying, but by Wednesday we had 76%.

“We are worried about those who are still not reporting to school. We are putting measures in place so they can either register online or participate in the lockdown education materials provided,” he said. “Of all the schools that have Grade 12 pupils, 85% received pupils back in classes, but 15% didn’t reopen because some had to close for decontamination or they suffered vandalism or break-ins,” he said.

Lesufi said some schools could not reopen because of reported Covid-19 infections.

“Covid-19 cases prevented 18 schools reopening. Five schools couldn’t reopen due to break-ins and vandalism, and eight schools could not reopen because of disruptions from parent and other formations,” he said.

Two special needs schools could not reopen due to identified cases of Covid-19.

In terms of attendance by teachers,  Lesufi said the numbers started at 65%, increased to 73% on Tuesday and 78% on Wednesday.

He said steps have been taken at schools showing low attendance numbers since the resumption of learning during the amended school year.

“We had 125 schools with lower attendance, but that went down to 78. We are working hard at those schools to ensure pupils return,” he said.

Lesufi called on police to assist at schools where disruptions of learning were still occurring, citing Tshwane and Johannesburg as the most problematic areas.

“Unfortunately, we still have people who are still disturbing school attendance, especially in the Tshwane area and Johannesburg. We have called for law-enforcement to assist us. Where there are disruptions we are dealing with them,” he said.

Lesufi said he was confident all grades would be back at school by month end.

“In Gauteng three grades are back, and we believe that by end of August all grades will be back at school. We believe the support we have been giving is helping. From August 24 and beyond we will make sure all pupils get personal protective equipment (PPE),” he said.

The Mpumalanga education department was also pleased with the return of grade 12 pupils and teachers from August 3.

The department recorded that almost all the 555 secondary schools in the province have reopened without any problems and with impressive pupil attendance.

“As of Monday we can report that more than 83% of pupils reported, and the numbers have been gradually increasing.”

The department said it will continue to work with schools to ensure adherence to and compliance with Covid-19 health and safety imperatives as “teachers, pupils and everyone at schools should not be exposed to infections.”


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