The matric class of 2020 wrote their last paper on December 15. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
The matric class of 2020 wrote their last paper on December 15. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Matrics, parents and educators were resilient throughout 2020

By MaryAnne Isaac Time of article published Feb 22, 2021

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Durban - The Department of Basic Education recognises that 2020 was the most difficult year and will be remembered as the year that not only posed health risks but impacted the education sector.

With more than 13 million pupils registered for matric in 2020, only one million NSC candidates wrote their combined June and November exams.

Dr Rufus Poliah, chief director for National Assessment and Public Examinations, says that matric pupils, parents and teachers were resilient throughout 2020.

“Unesco (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) carried out a rapid analysis of the assessment scenario during the Covid-19 pandemic with 84 countries. They found 58 of those countries had either postponed or rescheduled their exams and assessment programmes, 23 countries had introduced alternative methods of assessments and exams and 22 countries maintained their exams and 11 had cancelled their exams.

“South Africa is among 22 countries across the 84 countries that maintained its public exam administration during the pandemic and stands out as a country that took the bull by its horns.”

Last year’s curriculum coverage depended on pupils’ attendance and research has found that the attendance rates had bounced back significantly since July 2020, when not all grades were open.

Director-General for Basic Education, Mathanzima Mweli, says schools would continue to use rotational time-tabling and that Covid-19 had presented an unprecedented challenge.

“I commend teachers who are our unsung heroes, working flat-out to help the class of 2020 despite the negative impacts of Covid-19. There had been up to 2 000 deaths of teachers by January 2021. We (the department) have interacted with the class of 2020 more than any other previous matric classes,” says Mweli.

It’s the first time that one million matric candidates wrote the final exams that took place during a pandemic and with social distancing, and of the million were 607 226 full-time NSC candidates and 117 808 part-time NSC candidates.

Overall, the class of 2020 outperformed the class of 2019 in most subjects, with home languages above 40% and distinction passes. This is according to research conducted by the department.

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