South Africa - Cape Town - 3 November 2020 - Grade 12 Learners at Brackenfell High school kick off this year's final exams by writing the English First Additional Language paper. More than a million candidates will sit for the combined Senior Certificate and the National Senior Certificate exams from today. The exams have been combined with the June exams due to disruptions to the schooling calendar, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The matric class of 2020 is set to write their last paper on the 15th of December. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
South Africa - Cape Town - 3 November 2020 - Grade 12 Learners at Brackenfell High school kick off this year's final exams by writing the English First Additional Language paper. More than a million candidates will sit for the combined Senior Certificate and the National Senior Certificate exams from today. The exams have been combined with the June exams due to disruptions to the schooling calendar, caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The matric class of 2020 is set to write their last paper on the 15th of December. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Maths matric exams rewrite is ’unfair’ - teacher unions

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo Time of article published Dec 7, 2020

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Durban – The unprecedented decision by the Basic Education Department that two leaked matric exam papers be rewritten has been described as “unfair” and “premature” by some education stakeholders.

Others, however, have praised the move, describing it as “ethical and a second bite of the cherry for pupils”.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said Maths Paper 2 and Physical Sciences Paper 2 would be rewritten across the country. The maths paper will be written on December 15 and physical science on December 17.

However, the decision to rewrite the papers is being challenged by the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu).

The union is set to file an urgent court application to interdict the department’s decision.

Sadtu says the decision was unfair and premature as the investigation into the leaked papers had not been concluded.

A principal, who asked not to be named, said the decision would have a negative effect on pupils as most were exhausted.

University of KwaZulu-Natal’s education expert, Professor Labby Ramrathan, said the rewrite would have a negative psychological impact on pupils.

Ramrathan said pupils paid more attention to their school work during the start of their exams, and making them write “difficult papers” while edging closer to the finish line would be detrimental.

“They have been studying for a while now and these additional papers will create more stress for them,” he said.

He said those who generally worked hard and were top achievers would not be affected much, but those who struggled would find it challenging.

However, Ramrathan said rewriting was the only option, as the department was unable to track down the extent of the leak.

A principal said they were shocked by the announcement and, based on his experience, the pupils were depressed, stressed and worried.

“Our pupils are being disadvantaged. Generally, these two subjects, especially paper 2, are very stressful for pupils. It needs so much preparation, and they will not be psychologically prepared.”

A matric pupil said the announcement had left him demotivated and stressed.

“We prepared for weeks and months for them, now having to rewrite, it’s demotivating. To me, this means that the work I’ve done and the effort I have put in will go in vain. We had a long year and a lot of obstacles, now this,” said the pupil.

The chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Parents Association, Vee Gani, said pupils would have to rewrite as this was the only way to ensure credible results.

“This is an unpopular decision to take, but it brings into question the integrity of the exams. If they rewrite now, then it might be a second bite of the cherry,” he said.

Gani said he did not believe the decision could be reversed and urged pupils to study hard.

“This has been a very sad year for this year’s matric pupils. The pandemic caused too much stress for them.”

Basil Manuel, executive director of the National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa), described the decisions as “unjustifiable”.

Manuel said they were worried about the pressure that this year’s matric pupils were facing. “Now they are being told to rewrite, it’s too much for them and most of the pupils are going to crumble. Yes, let’s punish the guilty, but a national rewrite is not a good idea,” he said.

National Teachers’ Union’s spokesperson Allen Thompson said they didn’t want to subject pupils to the results that were not going to be endorsed by Umalusi.

Ahmed Bawa, chief executive at Universities South Africa, said they depended on the work done by Umalusi which determined the quality of examinations.

“If Umalusi gives the green light to the process, we are in full support of that. It’s a difficult situation that the pupils are finding themselves in, however, the universities will go along with Umalusi’s decision,” Bawa said.

Mercury

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