Magope Maphila (foreground), deputy president of the SA Democratic Teachers' Union attends their national general council at a Kempton Park hotel in eastern Johannesburg on Friday, 25 October 2013. The decision to suspend Sadtu president Thobile Ntola was not made lightly, Maphila said on Friday. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Cape Town - The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union in the Western Cape is continuing to oppose competency tests for matric markers, and says it is taking the fight to national level.

The Western Cape is the only province that has introduced competency tests for teachers who want mark the National Senior Certificate exam and, according to the provincial Education Department it wants to ensure the highest possible standard of marking.

“Only teachers who demonstrate that they know the content of the subject and that they are able to mark will be trained and appointed for the 2014 NSC marking process,” said Jessica Shelver, spokeswoman for Education MEC Debbie Schäfer. “The government of the Western Cape is confident that testing of this nature ensures, where possble, that there is the highest possible standard of marking in the matric exams. We are not alone in this view.”

Shelver said that in its recent report the task team on the matric exam, appointed by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, made a number of recommendations about the marking of the exam.

“It stated that quality should be the most important criterion for appointing markers and that all markers should be required to demonstrate their competence prior to being appointed, citing subject matter competency tests. It also states that markers who failed to meet the required standards for marking papers should not be allowed to continue to mark.”

Teachers who mark matric papers get extra pay.

Sadtu provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin said the issue should have been negotiated at national level.

The union has been opposing the tests since they were introduced in 2011, and previously called on teachers not to write the tests. Rustin said teachers had to mark throughout the year, not just for the matric exam. It would be more effective for the department to offer a programme to develop their skills. He said the matter would be taken up with the Education Labour Relations Council.

Shelver said tests did not only assess the content knowledge of the subject but also the application of knowledge and skills, marking abilities and the ability of the applicant to interpret Grade 12 candidates’ responses.


The number of applications for remarks of exam scripts have decreased since the tests were introduced.

Schäfer said the province would continue with the tests. “I find it difficult to understand what is unjust about ensuring that the people who mark our matric papers are able to do the work themselves at a suitable standard. If they are, it will be no problem for them to pass the competency tests. If they are not, is it just that they adjudicate on the competence of our children?”

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Cape Argus