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SOME SCHOOLS OPEN WEEK EARLIER, PS SAYS THUMBS-UP

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MBABANE – Teachers have gone beyond their call of duty to assist learners attain good results.

This was evident yesterday as some schools resumed lessons earlier than expected, to prepare pupils for their examinations, despite that schools will officially open next week Tuesday. Pupils enrolled in external classes at Somnjalose and St Mark’s High School returned to their respective classrooms yesterday to catch-up on the syllabus. The Examinations Council of Eswatini (ECESWA) has already issued timetables for external exams which begin mid-February. Worth noting is that some schools also delayed closing for the festive holidays to cover some material in the syllabus.

In an interview with St Mark’s High School Deputy Head teacher, Busisiwe Mkhonta, she said over 80 per cent of the learners had returned to school for revision purposes. Mkhonta said pupils were attending school for purposes of practising the oral examinations which were due to begin soon. According to Mkhonta, the oral examinations will begin on January 25, 2021 to February 18, 2021.

Syllabus

She mentioned that they had managed to cover most of the syllabus in some of the key subjects and the pupils were revising. Mkhonta noted that the online learning greatly assisted them, although they now preferred face-to-face learning due to the fact that lately, the learners were no longer participating online.
Meanwhile, the reopening of some schools ahead of the official date was also witnessed around Manzini, where the pupils were also being assisted in readiness for the upcoming external examinations. The rationale was for pupils to use the available limited time to acquire as much knowledge as possible, to know and apply themselves in the external examinations which will begin in February.

A visit to a few schools situated in town found learners in school premises and in uniform. They had already resumed lessons since the schools closed last year.
Manzini Infant Practising School Deputy Head teacher Bongekile Mkhonta, said the motivation behind opening a week earlier was that a lot of time had been lost while schools were closed and they wanted to catch-up. “We wanted to avoid pupils having a long break since the exams are near. All in all, we are preparing for the exams and that is the only thing that is pushing us,” she said.

Meanwhile, Salesian High School pupils took the initiative to request for learning resumption a week prior to schools official reopening. Head teacher Petros Horton confirmed this by stating that he was approached by Form V pupils, who asked him to use the school for studying, with the guidance of some teachers. “So, my main obligation is to welcome the requests of learners who are willing to use the school, especially because it is intrinsically motivated,” Horton said.

Beneficial

He went on to state that it was imperative to know who the school served in whatever action that they did. He mentioned that in this case, it was the learners, who aspired to pursue something that was beneficial to them. The school administrator highlighted that the Form V pupils were greatly affected because they literally did not do their Form IV. As it were, he said the nature of learners was to first adjust and acquire most for the external class (Form V). Horton said what happened to all learners in the country was unfortunate but no one could be blamed and it was beyond their control. He further said he marvelled when he saw children taking such initiatives to request to learn.

Linda Mbuli and Salebona Gadlela, Form V pupils at the school, shared with this publication that they were quite ecstatic to have returned to school. They expressed that they were hoping to catch-up on the syllabus and finally complete school with flying colours. Ministry of Education and Training Principal Secretary (PS) Bheki Gama said although he did not have a comment on this as it was something that always happened in the past, he personally commended teachers who wanted to go the extra mile to assist pupils who had lagged behind on their academic work.

He commended schools that had reopened early to assist pupils to complete the syllabus. Gama stated that the teachers were doing a great job as it would assist in improving the exam results. He said he did not consider schools that were already teaching to be on the wrong, although officially they were closed knowing how much time had been lost. “I really commend the action taken by the teachers in schools that decided to reopen early to assist pupils to catch-up on the syllabus,” the PS said. He said although he was not officially aware of such, it was a move he could not disapprove of. Gama said learners were not forced to go to school but did it out of choice. When questioned how he thought learners would perform, the PS said he trusted the teachers.

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