Durban - A number of students enrolled at a Durban finishing school have discovered they are not registered to write this year’s final exams.
The Department of Education issued a statement that students at four schools weren’t registered for the 2013 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations, the majority of whom came from African Vision Secondary School, based in Durban.
One 20-year-old Durban student, who asked not to be named, said the students were told they would be writing the exams in February.
“Who gets registered this year to write an exam paper next year? I’ve spent the whole year upgrading my maths and science, and now I won’t write exams.”
She said her mother was also upset by the news, as she had been paying R450 a month, expecting her to write the exams and begin studying radiography at Durban University of Technology next year.
Another student, Nonkululeko Mbatha, 19, from uMnambithi, said they were told in June that they would not be writing the final exams.
“One of the teachers told us that we won’t be writing and only those that were in Grade 11 last year would be in the system to write the exams.”
The student said they approached the department in June about the exam registrations.
“When we got to the Education Department offices, they checked for our names and they weren’t there. They told us only 180 pupils were registered to write the exam.”
The pupils went on strike for two weeks in June and were promised by the principal, known only as Mr Rogers, that the issue would be resolved.
“He came with papers, saying they were from the department, and we were asked to fill them in,” said Mbatha, adding the letter was on stationery bearing the school’s letterhead.
She said they later received calls from the school instructing them to pay double the school fees, but students refused.
Last week, the principal had promised them exam timetables, but they were sent from pillar to post.
“My mother has told me to return home because there is nothing I’m staying in Durban for if I’m not writing,” she said.
Mbatha had hoped she would upgrade her maths and science marks and gain entry to Mangosuthu University of Technology to study engineering.
In an attempt to get their fees back, Mbatha and a number of students approached the courts hoping to obtain papers which would force the principal to return their money, but he wasn’t available to be given the papers.
Department spokesman, Muzi Mahlambi, said about 300 students had been paying fees and attending classes all year, believing they were registered for this year’s exam papers, when only a third of them were.
“Rules must be followed when it comes to administration of exams. We clearly indicated to the school that there are specific seating arrangements and spacing for desks, so if the hall takes 100 learners, then there can be no more.”
Mahlambi said despite this knowledge, the school had oversubscribed, leaving a number of students without the opportunity to write. He said the school had also moved from Aliwal Street to Joe Slovo Street without informing the department of the change of exam venue.
“It’s unethical. They based the decision on business, not considering the implications for the students who attended classes the whole year and can’t sit for the examinations. They did this knowingly.”
He denied that the department had issued any documentation in June for registration, claiming they must have been forged documents.
Registration for NSC closes on March 15. However, according to Mahlambi, there were three schedules sent to the schools for verification.
“The final schedule is sent in August, after which the system is closed. You can’t register after that.”
He said the school had been open a few years, and this was the first time there had been a problem.
The Department of Education has contacted the national Department of Basic Education and exam quality assurers, Umalusi, asking that students be allowed to write the papers in February 2014, when supplementary exams are written.
“As a government, we’re stepping in,” Mahlambi said. “We’d rather the learners write in February than lose out on a whole year. They can then apply for university in the second semester.
The school could not be reached for comment.