The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has called on the province’s Department of Education (DoE) to ensure that all matric markers undergo Covid-19 testing prior to leaving exam marking centres and being reunited with family and friends.
The call comes after inspections of several venues, conducted earlier this week by KZN’s Education portfolio committee, which have revealed, amongst others, that 35 out of 380 educators at the Estcourt marking facility tested positive. The shock figure comes as teachers are expected to conclude the marking process early next week and return home.
Our province has already lost several dedicated educators, who were part of the marking process, as a result of Covid-19. With more than 500 markers at some centres, the DA believes that these venues have the potential to become super-spreader centres, hence our call that the DoE ensure that all involved are tested once the marking process has been completed.
The DA’s call also comes after an inspection at the Estcourt marking centre yesterday, where the screening process was abysmal. This included my own temperature being taken as 34.2 degrees and then recorded as 36.2. This is fraudulent. To add to this, other items on the checklist – including a vehicle search for any contraband and other items – was not conducted, further compromising the integrity of the marking centre.
If this is the case, it is little wonder that people are able to slip through the cracks and enter such facilities – even if they are unwell. This matter demands accountability and the DoE needs to ensure that both screeners and any individuals who have not been entirely honest are taken to task.
While the DA does believe that the DoE and DoH are doing their utmost to adhere to regulations it appears that there are individuals who are letting them down. This is evidenced by the lack of screening protocol as well as the DA having witnessed some markers ignoring physical distancing protocols in various instances. This is simply reckless behaviour and the DA implores all involved in the marking process to follow the rules. This means washing hands regularly, sanitizing regularly and keeping a safe physical distance.
There can be no doubt that the past year has been an exceptionally difficult one for our learners – particularly those who were in matric. Compounding this is the matter of whether Umalusi will certify the results when they are finalised.
The DA remains committed to ensuring quality education for our learners and accountability at all levels.