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MBABANE – Disorder!

The above phrase describes the first day of opening of schools yesterday. It was a bad start to the reopening of schools as a lot seemed to have gone wrong. Teachers had a tough time while trying to arrange pupils who had no clue which classrooms they had to occupy. Most pupils went straight to classrooms they were familiar with when they last attended school in March last year. Following the COVID-19 outbreak, most pupils did not attend school and government allowed for automatic progression to the next class, something which puzzled the pupils. Meanwhile, some of the pupils in Grade IV, V and VI had to be turned back as they had attended school yet they were not supposed to. Also, teachers were left confused as to which classes to take, especially because the classrooms had been divided to accommodate at least 20 pupils per class as per the regulations.


Head teachers faced a hard time when trying to explain the allocation of classes and a way forward. In an interview with St Mark’s Primary School Head teacher Bhekile Mabuza, she said it was not easy to handle the situation following the long break. Mabuza said the school enrolment was about 1 500 pupils and it was not easy for the newcomers in Grade I and II as they were still young, hence they requested guardians to accompany them. “Some of the pupils are not sure of which class they belong to as they asked; ‘Am I in Grade I or am I in Grade II’ yet they had been promoted to the next class,” said Mabuza. Further, she said the teachers were moving class by class verifying with their class list whether the pupils were supposed to be in the grade they were in. She said according to government’s arrangement, the Grade Is and IIs were supposed to attend school on the same day but it would not be the case with them.

Mabuza stated that the grades would come on different days as the pupils were too many. She said the numbers they had before the outbreak of COVID-19 were 40 pupils in each class, which they had to split to two to adhere to the regulations. However, she said when admitting pupils, they made sure that they registered 20 pupils per class but it was not the same with the Grade IIs, who were many due to the fact that they were admitted while the country was still COVID-19-free. According to Mabuza, Grade I pupils would have to be accommodated in the Grade II classrooms as well due to the numbers, adding that it would be impossible then for the two grades to come on the same day.


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