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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Gauteng education department hailed for putting the interests of the learners first

Thabo Mohlala

The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) always puts the interests of the learners first where it is possible to do so, said Steve Mabona, the department’s spokesperson.

This follows the special concessions that education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, granted to learners who arrived late yesterday for their final examinations after they were caught up in a severe traffic due to the ‘Black Monday’ protest.

After initially leaving the matter in the hands of chief invigilators, Lesufi had to intervene to ensure the problem is speedily resolved so that learners can continue to write their examinations on the same day.

Under normal circumstances, chief invigilators take charge of the entire examination process including exercising discretionary powers where extra-ordinary circumstances such as yesterday’s incident arise.

Asked if this is the policy position of the department or just a simple gesture of kindness to accommodate the unique circumstances of the stranded learners, Mabona said the policy does allow them to make such interventions.

He said while they will apply policies, “we also have to make sure our learners do not get disadvantaged where the situation is beyond their control. What is of paramount importance in this instance is that no learner was disqualified from writing the examination yesterday,” said Mabona. He said he does not have information about the specific number of centres and learners affected by the march.

“It is regrettable that, they had to write this important paper under this tormenting condition,” Lesufi said adding that “administrative prescripts” would be invoked to all those who may have missed the examinations.

Lesufi added that according to their report, all learners who arrived late were afforded an opportunity to write and that there “were minimal exceptional cases” of learners who have missed their papers.

According to the policy, a learner who missed final examinations would have to provide strong motivation before a dedicated committee who would then decide whether the learner can write supplementary examinations.

Several people hailed Lesufi for responding timeously and particularly allowed the learners to sit for the examination. Calling on KayaFM, some parents and the members of the public expressed anger and criticised the organisers of the march, saying it was ill-timed and nearly caused learners their futures.

They also pointed out that the march had racial undertones as it focused mainly on the deaths of white farmers.

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