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Media Release

14 June, 2007

Heads of education meet to assess situation in schools

Statement by Duncan Hindle, Director General national Department of Education

The Department of Education met today in Pretoria with all provincial Heads of Education. The purpose of the meeting was to assess the situation in schools, and to respond to these in a co-ordinated fashion.

The meeting received a comprehensive report from each province, which showed that the strike has indeed had a serious impact on education. However it was also evident that this impact had been uneven, and that there were many schools which have remained open for the entire period, and have proceeded with mid-year examinations. These included schools in suburban areas, as well as many rural schools. Some schools which wished to remain open had been forced to close, through intimidation, and others had been closed altogether. Most FET Colleges and ABET centres have remained open and have conducted their examinations.

The reports provided clear evidence that strong and decisive leadership in the provinces had been critical in giving schools the confidence to proceed with their programmes in the face of threats. The role of many responsible principals in keeping schools open, and the protection provided by the SA Police Services, have been greatly appreciated by the Department.

The Heads of Department condemned all acts of intimidation and violence which had occurred during the strike, and called on the union leadership to show stronger resolve in this regard. All Departments are committed to enforcing the necessary disciplinary procedures as required, and to report instances of professional misconduct to the professional council (SACE).

The meeting discussed possible recovery plans to compensate for the lost teaching and learning opportunities. The Department has agreed that television will be extensively used to provide "catch-up programmes" for learners during the July holidays. In addition, every province has prepared recovery plans, based on different scenarios, and as soon as there is a decision to return to work, these plans will be discussed with the teacher unions.

Directives will be provided to all schools regarding the holding of mid-year exams, where these have not yet been conducted.

Learners are urged to make use of the July holidays for self study, and are reminded that there are still 120 days before the end of year examinations. If these days are well used for intensive teaching and learning, there is no reason for them not to succeed in these examinations.

All heads expressed the wish that the dispute be resolved as soon as possible.

For enquiries, contact Gert Witbooi:  082 550 3938, or gwitbooi@pgwc.gov.za.

Issued by the National Department of Education, Pretoria

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