The MEC of Education in Limpopo, Ms Polly Boshielo said laziness among teachers, proximity to taverns and inactive governing bodies are to blame for the poor matric outcomes in some Limpopo schools. Boshielo expressed her disappointment at the seven schools that obtained 0% pass rates among the 18 nationwide, in the 2020 national certificate exams.
Last year the province obtained nine. Of the seven schools enrolled there was a combined 73 Grade 12 learners, which means the province accounts for nearly half of the poor performing schools countrywide. Three of the schools are in Sekhukhune, two in Waterberg, with both Capricorn and Mopani obtaining one each.
The province achieved the third lowest spot in the country with a 68.2% matric pass rate, a 5% decline from the year before with Waterberg District surpassing Vhembe to top the province.
“Among aspects to be blamed for the poor performance in schools were teachers’ attitudes, the apartheid legacy and taverns situated around the schools. Teachers refuse to go teach on Saturdays, saying they don’t get paid and they have other things to do like going to church,” said Boshielo.
She also blamed the number of matric learner enrolment in each school as some schools had as little as nine Grade 12 learners. Boshielo said small schools have proven to be costly and that it is unsustainable and non-viable to run these schools. She said the department gets an uproar from parents when it wants to shut these schools and transfer the learners somewhere else,”
She said she had also spoken to the MEC for Economic Development Seaparo Sekoati to shut down some of the taverns surrounding schools, because learners go there instead of going to school. Boshielo said the election of non-performing members to governing bodies and the apartheid legacy also played a role in poor performing schools.
“Structural apartheid issues and management also play a big role. We have many village schools that stand alone and are not easy to give support to or for pupils to engage with other pupils. In some schools the governing bodies elect members who don’t have children in that particular school. Which means those members won’t have interest in that school,” she said.
SA Democratic Teachers Union Limpopo Secretary, Sowell Tjebane, dismissed claims by Boshielo that teachers were lazy and the reason behind the province’s poor matric results. He said Boshielo’s statement is unfortunate and that the government can’t blame teachers for bad results when those same teachers go the extra mile.
“There is something called on contact time. You measure them on whether they are doing their work or not. Also, to this over teaching to compensate for time is unfair on learners because the children lack conceptual knowledge,” said Tjebane.
The National Acting Deputy Manager for Public Servants Association, Reuben Maleka accused Boshielo of being heartless and ungrateful under the conditions teachers had to work.
“Teaches had to work under the hard conditions of Covid-19. They had to face a number of learners everyday and risk their lives. Over 1500 teachers died of Covid-19 related ailments. As a leader she should be encouraging these teachers,” Maleka said.
Despite all of these challenges, the province produced 11 of the best performers in the country. Among them is 16-year-old Pearl Khosa from PP Hlungwani Secondary School in Green Farm Village, Malamulele in the Vhembe District, who bagged seven distinctions and a 100% pass in maths. Pearl is now eyeing a spot at UCT to study actuary science.
“I still can’t believe it’s happening. I worked hard but the support I received from my teachers, principal and my parents helped me a lot,” she said.
Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatha has since called on Boshielo to take action against officials responsible for schools that performed badly.
“In the past five years this has been your performance? Can you tell me what the reason has been to continue keeping you in this position that will assist in even other regions and districts to realise that it’s time to work here?” he asked.