The KZN Department of Education says people must not panic about a glitch in the system used to capture school-based assessment marks in three subjects for this year’s matrics.
The KwaZulu-Natal Education Department has picked up an error in the system its schools use to compute their matrics’ marks.

In a letter addressed to principals, it last week said some schools might have used the wrong marks for the school-based assessments (SBAs) of certain subjects.

These included life orientation, second additional languages and agricultural science.

The department said in the case of life orientation, SASams - an educational administration programme - had wrongly programmed the SBA total out of 100, instead of 320.

It had also “double captured” the oral marks for second additional languages, the department said, and changed the weightings for agricultural science.

The department said the marks of pupils at schools which had chosen to manually compute them, would not be affected and requested principals to complete a questionnaire stipulating how they had computed the marks.

Departmental spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa said yesterday that the problem had been addressed.

“What I can confirm is that when they’re released, the results will be credible,” he said.“It was a minor glitch but we were able to arrest it immediately.”

But the DA’s spokesperson on education in the province, Dr Rishigen Viranna, said the error had “the potential to jeopardise the entire 2017 NSC year and, in turn, the futures of thousands of matriculants”.

“Currently SBAs form a vital part of the NSC assessment and life orientation is a compulsory subject. That means his error has the potential to affect every single matriculant in KZN,” Viranna said.

He also expressed concern over the deadline - of Monday morning - for principals to complete and submit their questionnaires.

The letter was dated November 16 but Viranna said it was only sent out on Sunday.

“The majority of principals and circuit officials may not check their emails over weekends, which makes it highly unlikely that all schools would have responded timeously,” he said.

The National Teachers’ Union’s deputy president Allen Thompson said yesterday that this was a major concern, but the SA Onderwysersunie’s Ted Townsend was less worried.

“It’s a simple thing to correct,” he said. “The department just has to change it on the system.”

Townsend described the process as “the press of a button”.