English exam smooth sailing for matrics, no major issues reported
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Cape Town – The start of the matric exams went relatively smoothly yesterday, with nearly 42 000 pupils writing their first English First Additional Language paper, and another 28 000 writing English Home Language or Second Additional Language in the afternoon.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer’s spokesperson Kerry Mauchline said no major issues were reported.
“Minister Schäfer is also pleased that the province’s residents have thus far heeded her call not to disrupt the exams through protests or transport disputes, and we hope that everyone will continue to prioritise our matrics during the rest of the exam period.
“We wish all the matrics the very best for all their exams, and look forward to celebrating their success next year when the results are announced,” Mauchline said.
Nearly 100 000 candidates will write their National Senior Certificate exams in the Western Cape this month – a much larger group than would ordinarily write during the November session.
The provincial education department said it was because of the May/ June exam session that was combined with the November session due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Basic Education Department (DBE) has meanwhile said it would gladly assist teacher unions with information on amended exam protocols that allow pupils with a temperature reading of more than 38°C to sit for their exam.
The department said it, together with the Department of Health would work jointly to ensure that candidates who had been confirmed to be positive were given an opportunity to sit for the exams while ensuring that safety was observed.
The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) requested an urgent meeting with Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to address a range of issues, including who should invigilate the pupils.
“We also informed the minister that while we acknowledge the right of all learners to sit for an examination, we will not have the health and safety of our members compromised and that if teachers are expected to be responsible for the invigilation of such learners, Naptosa will support and defend members who do not see their way clear to do so, because we believe any such instruction will be both unlawful and unreasonable.
“Because this was an agreement reached with the Department of Health, we furthermore informed the minister that we expect the invigilation responsibility for the learners who have tested positive to fall on the shoulders of members of that department; and that all learners who have tested positive should report to the Department of Health and not the school where the health and safety of learners and teachers could be compromised,” Naptosa said.
Motshekga said they welcomed the intervention by the Department of Health given that a learner that tests positive becomes the responsibility of the Department of Health and no longer an education issue.
“The initial protocol of the Department of Basic Education was widely consulted and endorsed by the Department of Health, but this change in the protocol is very helpful because it will give all learners an opportunity to write their examinations,” Motshekga said.