The class of 2019 at Monument High School in Kraaifontein is writing their first major paper, English paper 1, on Wednesday morning. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - With final school assemblies taking place, and the exams looming, the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) says they have received calls from learners across the board, feeling overwhelmed and like they are going to forget everything they have learnt and fail.

The National Senior Certificate examination officially began across the country on Wednesday, with thousands of students to sit for their first major paper, English paper 1.

SADAG’s Call Center Manager, Vanishaa Gordhan said students are under a lot of pressure to succeed, and with all eyes on them, the pressure is growing each year.

"Students are feeling the pressure as all eyes from their friends, teachers, parents, families and their communities are waiting in anticipation as they prepare to sit down and write for the next 6 weeks. But it isn’t just Matric students who are preparing for the big exam seasons."

The class of 2019 at Monument High School in Kraaifontein is writing their first major paper, English paper 1, on Wednesday morning. The National Senior Certificate exams officially begins across the country today. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Manzomthombo learners getting ready to write their first exam English paper. Mfuleni was one of the areas that was hit by a lot of protests this year because of Overcrowded schools. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
Yanga Ngangashe from Manzomthombo High School. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

SADAG said parents also stress for the exam season too – they don’t always know how to best support their child so they can cope – and sometimes their pressure can add extra strain to the student. 

"But there are so many helpful tips and tools to help students at any level, as well as parents, to cope with the exam season," Gordhan said.

On Friday, SADAG will be hosting a FREE online #FacebookFriday Q&A, at 1pm - 2pm with Educational Psychologist Dr Joseph Seabi, and at 7pm - 8pm with Educational Psychologist, Khuze Ntakana.

Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said schools provide the first level of support. Principals and their staff should be on the lookout for anyone needing special support.

"This is an extremely stressful period for our Grade 12 learners. They have worked hard for 12 years to reach this point in their lives, and the pressure on learners is great," Hammond said.

Mfuleni was one of the areas that was hit by a lot of protests this year because of Overcrowded schools. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
Sizimisele Technical High School in Khayelitsha. Matric learners writing their first exams. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)
Sizimisele Technical High School in Khayelitsha. Matric learners writing their first exam. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA)

She said if a parent is concerned about their child’s wellbeing, or if a learner needs direct support they can contact the WCED SAFE SCHOOLS Call-Centre [0800 45 46 47] for assistance in locating immediate support.

In addition, Hammond said SADAG offers a 24HR HELPLINE [0800 12 13 14] Learners and/or parents can use these numbers if they feel that the child needs immediate assistance (often after school hours).

"We appeal to all parents to support and motivate their children during this period, but also to monitor their behaviour and seek advice if required," she said.

Sizimisele Technical High School in Khayelitsha. Matric learners writing their first exam. Video: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency
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