The Department of Basic Education has announced its decision to move matric supplementary exams.
From 2019, the second national examination will take place between May and June.
The decision was backed by national education stakeholders to allow for more people to complete their matric qualifications. Many, however, have raised concerns that the decision may affect those applying to tertiary institutions.
Elijah Mhlanga, spokesperson of the Department of Basic Education, said the decision was taken for many reasons, including that all of those who qualified to write did not register, and half of those who did, did not write the exams.
“This has resulted in loss of millions of rands to the department over the years. Extra costs include having question papers and answer sheets prepared, venue hire, and hiring invigilators; and markers. Regardless of whether people arrive, markers are paid according to the number of registrations,” he said.
Mhlanaga added that these exams are expected to take place between May and June because there are already exams in session during this time.
“The infrastructure already exists,” he said. “All we need to do is open it up for much larger use.”
The failure rate of supplementary exams are also higher, and this could be attributed to the short preparation period between end-of-year exams and the supplementary exams. Having the exams at the mid-year point will allow those writing to study longer, ensuring higher success rates.
Mhlanga also said that the second matric exam caters for other needs. Those who failed a subject may apply to rewrite it, but those who are not satisfied with their mark despite passing the subject will also be able to rewrite the subject.
The downside of this decision being passed is that those who have applied to write will have to wait for the following year to register for university courses. The Department of Basic Education, however, believes that this is better for the majority.
This decision was passed last year in Parliament. “In 2018, we want to concentrate on raising the matter more, to make the public aware,” said Mhlanga.
The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) supports the decision.
“For us, it is about creating access for more people to complete their matric. For better or worse, our (education) system is geared more for an academic child.
“Having a second sitting mid-year means we can afford people who’ve failed the opportunity to rewrite, and those who can only sit for some of their exams in December get an opportunity to sit for the rest in June – a six-month gap, as opposed to having to wait a year,” said Naptosa.
Ultimately, there is no way in which to avoid the six months to a year of lost time. This means that more pressure will be put on matric pupils to pass the first time around and to avoid these delays.