The KwaZulu-Natal Education Department has expressed grave concern over a large number of teachers who have died due to COVID-19 related complications in the province.

The department says the pandemic is expected to put a huge strain on the new academic year which is scheduled to start later in the month.

Despite the hard lockdowns last year, KwaZulu-Natal had the largest number of learners who sat to write their final 2020 National Senior Certificate exams.

MEC Kwazi Mshengu says marking is well underway.

“We have recruited 8 730 markers and of that number only 102 have withdrawn for various reasons. Others have tested positive, others are in quarantine, isolation, others indicated they fear for their lives and unfortunately others have succumbed to COVID-19. When we recruit, we had reserves that’s why it was easy for us to replace the 102 that have withdrawn. One of the areas of concern is the continued increasing number of fatalities as a result of COVID-19 in the province, we have lost about 106 educators and 51 of those people who died in was only in December which shows really that the second wave is hitting us hard,” says Mshengu.

Matric Exam | Progress in matric exam paper marking in KZN: Kwazi Mshengu

In Gauteng, over 880 teachers have pulled out of marking matric examination papers.

Gauteng Education Spokesperson Steve Mabona says the markers gave various reasons, including being exposed to the coronavirus and family bereavement.

An unspecified number of them have contracted COVID-19.

“Some could not come because they have positive cases or they were in contact with positive people, so that’s what we have. We were happy that we had started and we have now replaced those who did not come yesterday – so we don’t see any challenge when it comes to the marking of the scripts.”

The department said medical professionals will be on standby at marking centres.

Discussion on teachers pulling out from matric exam marking