The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union in Free State congratulates the matric class of 2020 for their sterling performance in the 2020 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations. The Free State province has once again demonstrated the commitment of learners, parents, departmental officials, support staff and most importantly, the teachers by achieving 85.1%.
This absolute achievement was obtained under difficult conditions of Covid-19 that has engulfed the country and the world. 2020 was the period of anxiety, panic and uncertainty that has changed our normal lives. Teachers, despite the criticism for not wanting to go to work by some within the communities, did their best to ensure that learners whilst at home were assisted through different programmes created by the department of education. On reopening of schools teachers went all out to close the curriculum gap brought about by Covid-19. They had to ensure that teaching and learning happened amidst the challenge of water scarcity in some areas in the province that impacted on Covid-19 protocols. We salute them for being true nation builders.
We commend the three districts that are in the Top 10 nationally being: Fezile Dabi, Thabo Mofutsanyana and Motheo who the majority of schools are led by principals who are SADTU members. Fezile Dabi and Motheo have been in the Top 10 for two consecutive years. It has to be noted that Thabo Mofutsanyana and Motheo districts are the biggest in terms of learner enrolment in the province.
The role that the department of health played cannot be over emphasised as they ensured continuous support by providing guidance in terms of health protocols in situations where learners, support staff and/or teachers contracted the virus. This they did despite the challenge of PPE’s and limited personnel that was stretched to the limit.
The year 2020 will be remembered for the unity it brought in education where the department of education and the labour organisation in the province worked closely in navigating through Covid-19. It was during that period where closure of schools had to be extended, new systems introduced to comply with social distancing, learner absenteeism increased, teachers with comorbidities had to stay away from school and some having to work from home. Covid-19 caused untold trauma to many families as some learners had to write the examinations having lost their parents due to the virus. To make matters worse, they never had the opportunity to pay their last respects to them because of Covid-19 regulations. This was a painful period that will not be easily forgotten; it is for this reason that we call for psychosocial support for the victims.
To the learners who could not make it, they should not despair as there are opportunities for them to catch up. It is not an option for any learner to take their lives because of poor performance. We call upon these learners to approach their teachers and departmental officials for guidance on many opportunities that are there for them to complete their matric.
As we begin the 2021 academic year we wish learners all the best. The road ahead is long considering the curriculum gap that has to be narrowed. We call all learners, teachers and support staff to always observe Covid-19 protocols to mitigate against the spread of the virus. We should, at all material times, prioritise life over curriculum coverage.
Issued by SADTU Free State