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Ramaphosa, Motshekga Wish Matrics Good Luck Ahead Of ‘Largest Public Exam Ever’ On Thursday

CHARLES MOLELE and NYAKALLO TEFU

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has extolled Grade 12 learners for their determination and sheer hard work despite insurmountable challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Writing in his weekly letter, the president wished the matrics well in their final exams, saying this was a culmination of 12 years of schooling and a gruelling final year of preparation.

“The Class of 2020 has had to endure conditions their predecessors never had to confront,” said Ramaphosa.  

“They had to adapt in real time not just to finish the curriculum but to catch up with the learning hours lost.”

Despite the COVID-19 disruptions, Umalusi has assured the portfolio committee on basic education that the class of 2020 will be assessed on the same standards of previous years.

The organization said matrics will be the only grade not writing ‘trimmed’ exams.

Umalusi stated that these exams, which were set over a year ago, will not be altered.

This is because if matrics are not taught part of their work, they will not be prepared for tertiary education. 

Matrics, however, will be the only grade not writing ‘trimmed’ exams.

Umalusi stated that these exams, which were set over a year ago, will not be altered. This is because if matrics are not taught part of their work, they will not be prepared for tertiary education. 

It noted that the matric curriculum began in earnest in Grade 11, with only the first three months of the matric year is dedicated to new material.

The rest of the year is spent on revision, a stage most schools are expected to reach by the time preliminary exams start in September.

However, the June supplementary exams had to be combined with the final exams, making it the largest group ever that had to sit for the exams since 1994 with an estimated 1 million candidates registered to write.

On Monday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga urged all South Africans to rally behind the matric class of 2020 ahead of the start if the final Grade 12 exams this week.

The combined examination for senior certificate and National Senior Certificate candidates makes this the largest cohort of 1, 058 699 candidates, expected to sit for their examination from 5 November to 15 December 2020.

The department said while significant efforts have been made to recover the academic year and provide extraordinary support to the learners, the total impact of the abnormal educational context remains an unknown and therefore a concern.

“The Department has commended all learners, teachers and SMTs for the resilience they have shown in braving the pandemic with a single goal of ensuring the Class of 2020 receives optimum support,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The Department has extended sincere gratitude to provinces, partners, educational stakeholders, parents and civil society for going beyond the call of duty to assist and support Grade 12 learners.”

Last Tuesday, Basic Education department and the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi) briefed the portfolio committee on basic education on preparations for matric exams.

According to education officials, most provincial education departments (PEDs) have already employed additional markers and invigilators and acquired extra marking centres in an attempt to cope with the higher number of candidates sitting for the examinations.

The department has combined the June and November exams, given the coronavirus and the subsequent lockdown.

The officials said that despite the pandemic, learners will write under the most conducive conditions possible.


Umalusi also informed the meeting that it has evaluated the department’s and PEDs’ states of readiness and was satisfied with preparations.


“We are ready to pull off a successful examination,” said basic education department’s Dr R Poliar.

“Despite the disadvantages and anxiety, they will write under most conducive conditions … It is unfortunate for this class to look forward and write under difficult conditions.’’

A total of 1 058 999 learners have been registered to write the exams this year. 

The total number of full-time candidates is 616 021; November part-time candidates 113 846; June senior certificates candidates 167 733; June full-time 155 935 and June part-time, 5 164. 

The department also confirmed that a total of 45 809 markers have been recruited.

They will be working at 180 centres across the country.

The exams are set to finish on December 15.

“All exam centres and storage points and nodal points have been audited. Invigilator training has been completed,” the department stated.

“Provincial education departments will extend the number of days needed for marking to accommodate the marker shortages or use a staggered marking approach.”

“Training of invigilators is conducted based on national manuals and training is conducted by competent provincial and district teams. Invigilator training across provincial education departments was conducted mostly virtually and in some cases face to face.”

Poliar told MPs that the registration of matric candidates has been completed with 1 058 999 confirmed to sit for the exams.

The total number of full-time candidates is 616 021; November part-time candidates 113 846; June senior certificates candidates 167 733; June full-time 155 935 and June part-time, 5 164.

He added that all questions papers have been set and approved by Umalusi.

Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, chairperson of the education committee, said a lot of work was done in the background to ensure Grade 12 are ready to sit for the final exams.

“We further note that 1 058 699 candidates have registered for the exams,” said Mbinqo-Gigaba.

“This includes full-time and part-time candidates, as well as those candidates who were supposed to have written examinations in June this year, which were cancelled due to the outbreak of Covid-19. This is a mammoth task.”

Mbinqo-Gigaba said the committee will closely monitor the examinations.

“We cannot but comment the DBE, PEDs and the education sector for the hard work they have done during extremely difficult times,” she said.

The committee has however raised concerns regarding the dwindling number of candidates registering for mathematics, opting instead for mathematical literacy.

Basic Education, however, said that the introduction of technical mathematics and technical physical science has contributed to lower registration rates for pure mathematics.

The ANC’s Study Group on Basic Education wished the Class of 2020 well as the National Senior Certificate exams begin across the country on Thursday.

“We call on parents and guardians to encourage learners during this difficult time to study hard and stay focused and to give them as much support as possible. We believe that the department will closely monitor the examination processes to ensure that the integrity and credibility of this final examination is upheld,” said ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina.

“We trust that this year’s matric results will surpass that of 2019. We would like to wish the class of 2020 best of luck and trust that they will go on to fulfil all their future endeavours.”

Majodina said the ANC’s Study Group also welcomed the protocols put in place to ensure compliance with COVID-19 rules by the department and circulated to guide the invigilators and officials involved in the management of the conduct and administration of the examination.

The results of the final exams will be released on February 23.

DBE has assured all matriculants that the late release of the results will not jeopardise their admission to Higher Education Institutions.

(COMPILED BY INSIDE EDUCATION STAFF)

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