Eastern Cape MEC for education Mandla Makupula has called for learners who lack the capacity for pure academic schooling to be compelled, through policy, to try their luck in technical education.
This following the shocking revelation that Makukhanye Senior Secondary School in Lusikisiki has an alarming number of overage learners – 135 pupils between the ages of 20-25.
The school’s total learner population is 1162, making this the school with the highest proportion of overage learners.
In grades 10 to 12, 12% of its pupils are above the average age.
The existing laws that govern the school system in the country stipulate that learners who are in the school system but have become overage because of repeating grades may not be refused continued education.
According to the Department of Basic Education’s (DoE) guidelines for the promotion and progression of pupils in the three senior grades, a pupil cannot spend more that four years in this phase.
This means a learner can repeat either Grade 10 or Grade 11 only once, failing which they should be promoted to the next class even if they did not meet the requirements.
Progression of a learner without merit is done with no guarantee that the concerned pupil will make it in a tougher grade than the one they have just left.
Makupula believes it is a waste of time and resources to have learners who are academically challenged to be allowed to languish in the system instead of being given the chance at a technical education section.
“The MEC has been advocating for implementation of the three-stream model curriculum, which allows for channeling those who lack capacity for pure academic schooling towards technical education,” said provincial education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima on behalf of Makupula.
The department says, however, that it can do nothing about the number of 25-year-olds at Makukhanye who are sharing desks and classes with classmates who in some instances are 10 years younger.
“In terms of national policy, learners who are in the school system but have become overage as a result of repeating grades may not be denied continued education at the school,” said Mtima.
But the DA in the province is up in arms that these older pupils, who are now adults, share the same space with teenagers, calling this a safety hazard to younger learners.
“The older learners at the school are often victimised because of their age and this, in turn, leads to retaliation in the form of bullying the younger ones and dropouts,” said the DA’s shadow MEC for education Edmund van Vuuren.
The DA says their stance should not be viewed as calling for the exclusion of overage learners who left the school system only to return with the intention of getting a matric.
However, it says arrangements should be made not to have adults mix with teenagers.
“We (the DA) believe that learners of a certain age wanting to pursue their basic education should instead enrol at an Adult Education and Training (AET) Centre.
“However, the problem here is that the Eastern Cape has a limited number of AET centres and the few that are there are inaccessible because of the geographical spread of this province,” said Van Vuuren. — firstname.lastname@example.org
By Zingisa Mvumvu – DispatchLIVE
Source: TMG Digital