KwaZulu-Natal - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s plan to root out inept matric markers has been formalised with the publication of national policy changes introducing competency tests for examiners.
The motive, ministerial spokeswoman Hope Mokgatlhe said, was to prevent pupils from being disadvantaged, and to address the marking inconsistencies identified by exam quality watchdog Umalusi.
The notice calling for public comment appeared in the Government Gazette late last month, but teachers’ unions claimed to have been caught unawares on Sunday.
When Motshekga’s department first publicly broached the issue nine months ago, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) was critical of the possibility, which the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) deemed long overdue.
In KwaZulu-Natal, 9 000 teachers were recruited to mark 1.7 million answer scripts last year. The provincial Education Department appointed senior markers to oversee five markers, and a deputy chief marker to supervise five senior markers.
To qualify as a marker, a teacher must have at least five years’ teaching experience in the relevant subject.
The Mercury previously reported that markers earned between R11 000 and R15 000 for 10 days’ work, depending on their seniority.
In their report on the 2011 National Senior Certificate, Umalusi expressed concern about the standard of marking. In KZN, for example, the body discovered that a maths literacy pupil was short-changed by 16 marks because of inconsistencies and inaccuracies.
But the report also commends KZN for having a mature and consolidated exam system, for the management and operational plans in place, and for its mark capture system.
The national CEO of the more than 700-strong Governing Body Foundation, Tim Gordon, believed that in recent times “considerable” numbers of pupils had been unfairly and significantly disadvantaged. He was in favour of the development and suggested markers should also be assessed on their marking ability.
“Teachers don’t recognise the valid inputs of a top-quality candidate where their answers aren’t identical to those on the memorandum,” Gordon said.
Despite the department’s already providing training to teachers, Gordon believed it was “short and superficial”.
The national general secretary of Sadtu, Mugwena Maluleke, said the union had not been consulted on the draft policy, and could only comment on its merits after studying it.
Motshekga’s intention is to have markers who are provisionally selected, divided into categories based on their competency test scores.
The draft policy states that those who achieve above 80 percent would be contracted as markers for three years. Teachers whose results were between 60 percent and 79 percent would be considered on condition they enrolled for further training, and annual testing until they achieved scores higher than 80 percent.
Performing below 60 percent would mean being excluded from the process.
Members of the public have until next Friday to comment on the draft policy. - The Mercury