The Department of Basic Education has announced that this year’s matriculants will be writing their mid-year and final examinations all in one go. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
The Department of Basic Education has announced that this year’s matriculants will be writing their mid-year and final examinations all in one go. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Grades 10 and 11 exams eased due to Covid-19 disruptions, DBE confirms

By Bongani Nkosi Time of article published Sep 17, 2020

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Johannesburg - Grade 10 and Grade 11 pass requirements for this year have been eased as schools grapple with the impact of Covid-19.

Basic Education Department director-general Mathanzima Mweli has directed schools to set tests for these critical grades, a move that effectively cancels common paper examinations this year.

“No common examinations/tests to be administered in Grades 10 and 11,” Mweli said in a circular.

The school-set “controlled” tests should only cover what a school has been able to teach during the pandemic-hit year, and not the entire syllabus.

“Controlled tests should only be set on content taught, content not taught cannot be assessed,” Mweli said.

This meant that schools that have taught just a portion of the curriculum should test learners on the little that the learners learnt.

Teaching and learning has been unequal between rich and poor schools during the lockdown.

The Star previously reported on a study that detailed that learners from affluent schools continued to receive core education during the lockdown while their poor counterparts were left behind.

JET Education Services, a Joburg-based research organisation, interviewed 16 families - seven of which sent their children to public schools, three to former Model C schools and six to independent schools.

“All independent and Model C schools attended by children in the sample had given learners work to do during lockdown; only two public schools had done so,” said the study.

Mweli conceded that schools have covered the curriculum variably this year.

“The additional loss of teaching time due to rotational attendance, Covid-19 infections, and the additional four-week closure has resulted in a variable completion of the Annual Teaching Plans.”

Mweli further directed the schools to pass learners largely on marks they obtained during yearly assessments.

“The final tests marks should weigh less than the yearly marks, contrary to established standards. The current 25% weighting of School Based Assessment is increased to 60% and the examination component which is currently 75% is decreased to 40% resulting in a 60:40 weighting as opposed to the current 25:75 weighting.”

He stressed that the interim interventions were due to coronavirus.

“Covid-19 lockdown and the extended closure of schools has had a significant impact on schooling, learning and assessment. Therefore, promotion requirements for the year 2020 will not be effected as stipulated in the national policy,” he said.

Education unions agreed to the revised measures communicated by Mweli, National Teachers’ Union’s president Allen Thompson said.

The stakeholders took cognisance that a large number of public school learners will proceed to the next grade without being curriculum-competent, Thompson said. “It’s a knock that we have to take,” he said.

“The country is not likely to recover next year. It will take at least three years to recover in terms of learners mastering the curriculum of a specific grade.”

Said Thompson: “We believe that there’s a lot of continuous assessment that has been done at school level.

“We also believe that continuous assessment in South Africa is being undermined, while it is a true reflection of the performance of the learner throughout the year,” he said.

@BonganiNkosi87

The Star

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