We need a plan for adults still sitting in classrooms
Makukhanye Senior Secondary School in Lusikisiki has an alarming number of overage learners - 135 pupils between the ages of 20-25.
Commenting on this shocking revelation‚ Eastern Cape MEC for education Mandla Makupula says learners who lack capacity for pure academic schooling to be compelled‚ through policy‚ to try their luck in technical education.
The school’s total learner population is 1‚162‚ making this the worst school with overage learners as 12% of its pupils are above the average age in the grades between 10 and 12.
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 guidelines for the promotion and progression of Grade 10-12 pupils‚ a pupil cannot spend more than four years in this phase (Grade 10-12) - meaning that a learner can only repeat either Grade 10 or Grade 11 once‚ failing which they should be promoted to the next class even if they failed to meet the requirements for a pupil to progress to the next grade.
The progression of the learner without merit is done without any guarantee that the pupil will make it in a tougher grade than the one they are being promoted from.
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 the implementation of the three stream model curriculum that allows for channeling those who lack capacity for pure academic schooling towards technical education‚” said provincial department spokesman Malibongwe Mtima‚ on behalf of Makupula.
The department however says it cannot do anything about the 25-year-olds at Makukhanye who are sharing desks and classes with classmates 10 years their juniors in some instances.
“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.
On social media‚ readers pointed out that the disdain for technical schools had influenced government policy for some time.
Richard Hall commented‚ "Unfortunately this is too little too late. Most of the technical schools and colleges are closed or run down because apparently it was discriminatory to tell a kid who keeps failing that perhaps they'd do better working with their hands."
Zanoxolo Duncan Mbekela agreed‚ saying: "This has been my call but you keep on closing the these technical schools."