Teachers Did Their Best Despite A Challenging School Year - NAPTOSA

The Basic Education Sector has had to contend with various challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but one of SA's Teachers Unions says they have done enough to prepare learners for the final term.


As the beginning of the final term for the 2021 school year kicks off. The Basic Education Department has implemented various interventions to ensure that learners and matriculants have been well prepared.

Careers portal caught up with NAPTOSA’s Executive Director, Basil Manuel to get his insights on whether enough has been done to prepare learners for their final term as well as some of the issues that still plague the education sector.

Manuel says that this has been a difficult year for educators and that they have done as much as possible to prepare learners for the upcoming exam period.

In terms of readiness, teachers have done as much as they can do. We’ve seen a series of extra lessons in the morning as well as in the afternoon, weekend classes, holiday classes to prepare learners. And that is necessary because the Cohort of 2021 had a bad 2020 where they lost close to 50% of the year.

He adds that this has wedged a gap in teaching and learning because those engagements that were necessary for their matric year were phased out. These are engagements that include winter school and spring school among others.

He also explains that not as much focus has been placed on Grade 11s, but says that this is mostly due to schools not being able to bring back as many learners due to Covid-19.

It is not necessarily that anybody is to blame, our schools in the country are making it impossible to bring back all the learners under the current conditions. 

The long-term consequences of this, according to Manuel, is that that these gaps may begin to show in the last year of the current Grade 11.

The Executive Director also pointed out that teachers have had to endure a lot of stress which, in some cases, has called for there to be more support for them.

“I think there has been a lot of resilience in our institutions they are doing a lot, pushing themselves the extra mile. But I want to see more support since the teachers have not been as resilient when mental health problems such as anxiety and stress creep in,” he told Careers Portal 

He adds that this has often been the case among teachers who do not take enough breaks experience and, as result, experience burnout.  

On the issue of budget cuts that have been implemented in the education sector, NAPTOSA’s stance on the matter is that it is unacceptable.

Manuel explained that this is an issue that has plagued the sector on a much broader scale and will likely have negative long term consequences for educators across the country.

If you reduce your budget there will automatically be teachers that are now in circuits, which is a euphemistic word for retrenchments and as soon you do that it adds to the pressure and the uncertainty that people are going through. We oppose it, we have been fighting about it and we are at a point where we have been given the assurance that there will be no retrenchments.

Manuel further says that they will see to it that the Treasury Department relooks this decision although he also admits that these budget cuts often occur in order to fund other government interventions.

NAPTOSA says that some of the things that will bring some level of normality to the South African School year in the short term include, ensuring that more of the population is vaccinated.

Additionally, the education sector should also ensure that foundation phase learners spend enough time in school. This should also apply to Grade 11, as it will ease the burden on matric learners next year.

Implementing measures that deal with overcrowding in schools as well as addressing the issues around school infrastructure are some of the long term issues that need to be addressed for schooling to go back to normal, according to Manuel. 

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