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Covid-19 guidelines that can prevent matrics from writing exams ’unfair’

File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Oct 21, 2020


Cape Town – Matric pupils determined to pass their 2020 National Senior Certificate (NSC) and progress into higher education may see that dream being stalled should they either contract Covid-19, be a close contact or not pass the temperature screening.

Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said any candidate who tests positive will not be allowed to write the exam.

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“Normally, when a person tests positive they quarantine and stay away from normal activities to protect everybody else. Grade 12 is no different when it comes to the implementation of the health and safety measures.

’’If a candidate misses certain subjects now due to Covid-19, they will repeat next year. There are no supplementary exams any more; it is a full-on examination that happens in May and June,” he said.

Dominic Riley, a pupil at South African College High School in Newlands, said the decision to prevent pupils from writing was unfair.

“Pupils deemed to be a threat to others should be provided a different venue or another alternative such as writing online. Schools screen pupils before entering and they plan to prevent students from entering if they fail this screening. Temperature scanners are extremely inaccurate and unreliable.

“I can’t imagine ruining a year of my life, not because I had Covid-19, not because I had a high temperature but because my temperature was misread. The results of this are far-reaching,” said Riley.

Kerry Mauchline, spokesperson for provincial Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, said 792 pupils had tested positive to date, with the majority having already recovered from the virus.

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She said while the department had raised concerns at pupils having to wait until May and June to write their outstanding exams, the decision was made by the national department.

“We appreciate that the DBE’s decision may cause anxiety for learners and their parents, but we must also remember that we are in a global pandemic situation.

“The measures the national government introduces are there to prevent the virus from spreading to others, and the safety of all learners must be prioritised. Even though our country has moved to alert level 1, we cannot afford to become complacent,” said Mauchline.

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National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) executive director Basil Manuel said: “We understand the concerns raised by the pupils but the difficulty is that if a pupil tests positive they can be placed in another facility, but who will invigilate?

’’Invigilators that are employed, are teachers at the school. The whole idea of isolation means that you are not in contact with anybody else.

“We have debated this with the department and, quite honestly, I don’t see any other way. I agree with the youngster that it is a stressful time, and that maybe more should be done. But under the circumstances I can’t see what more the department could have done.”

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Meanwhile, about 95 427 candidates in the province are expected to sit for their final exams.

This includes full-time part-time pupils, those writing supplementary exams from 2019 results, and candidates for the Senior Certificate.

Cape Times

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