Circumcision Rites Contribute To Dismal Pass Rates

News  African Eye News Service (Pietersburg, South Africa). Monday, 12 March 2001.

Dumisane Lubisi

Circumcision ceremonies have been blamed for the dismal pass rate at 16 rural schools in the Northern Province where less than 10 percent of matriculants passed last year.

Eleven of the schools whose pass rates were particularly poor, are situated in deep rural Sekhukhuneland where boys are often out of school for three months each Winter to be initiated at traditional bush schools.

This was revealed at a one-day motivational workshop for the schools' principals in Pietersburg last week. Principals said schools were left almost empty during the circumcision period, when boys between ages of 15 to 20 undergo an intense right of passage into manhood.

Provincial education spokesman Freddy Greaver said the department would meet with the owners of initiation schools to try resolve the massive absenteeism at mainstream schools. This has contributed so much to the schools' bad matric results that we have to do something about it, he said.

Other key factors that contributed to the low pass rate was a lack of morale amongst teachers, and principals' and parent's lack of interest in their children's education, the workshop heard. Some schools continue to suffer a shortage of mathematics and science teachers and also lack stationery, textbooks and furniture.

Greaver said the teacher redeployment programme would ensure the necessary teachers were deployed to needy schools. The process is faced with some hiccups, like resistance from teachers, but we will have to move some teachers to areas in need, he said.

Newly appointed education MEC Joyce Mashamba told the principals to seek means of solving the problems they faced. She also encouraged them to write down their grievances so the department could address them.

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