THE Education Quality Assurance Council, Umalusi, has granted assessment bodies the green-light to administer the Grade 12 final exams.
“We are ready to quality assure the 2020 examinations with the constraints that have been presented by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Umalusi CEO Dr Mafu Rakometsi.
Over one million learners are expected to write combined matric exams on Thursday due as a result of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are in unfamiliar terrain, but we are ready and agile in terms of trusting our systems to ensure that we meet our obligations despite challenges presented by Covdi-19,” said Rakometsi.
With over a million learners expected to sit for the final exams, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has had to appoint more markers in order to ensure that papers are marked on time for the release of the results.
Over 44 500 markers have been appointed countrywide, with some provinces still having a shortage of markers in various subjects.
Traditionally, those eligible for the appointment to mark matric papers were usually Grade 12 teachers with two years’ experience on the subject or language they applied to mark.
“It is the responsibility of the different assessment bodies to appoint the markers, we do the monitoring of the appointments of the markers,” said Rakometsi.
Rakometsi said Umalusi was happy that assessment bodies have complied with policies put in place to conduct the final examinations.
Umalusi has made available over 100 marking centres countrywide.
In 2019, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that there would be tighter security for the matric exam papers due to reports of them being leaked in the previous years.
“We are not the custodians of the papers. We therefore hold assessment bodies accountable for ensuring that they put measures in place to ensure that they conduct examinations that are credible and temper proof in compliance with the policies put in place,” said Rakometsi.
Rakometsi said the assessment bodies are the ones who keep the papers and Umalusi was the oversight structure that checks that they have the right systems in place to oblige to the policies.
COVID-19 has disrupted the academic year, however matric learners were prioritised, provincial education departments provided learners with various learning support options such as television, radio and online lessons and learning material hosted on 330 zero-rated websites.
Rakometsi said protocols have been put in place by assessment bodies to ensure that COVID-19 health and safety regulations are followed during the final examinations.
“Umalusi expects assessment bodies to come up with ways in which they will deal with any learner that contracts the coronavirus during examinations, this includes advising learners to go into self-isolation should they contract the virus,” said Rakometsi.
Rakometsi said it will be up to each assessment body on how they decide to deal with those that contract the coronavirus and Umalusi will respect and make sure they follow through with those rules for every learner.
In line with the COVID-19 regulations, all examination centres across assessment bodies are required to comply with State of Disaster Regulations as announced by the President of the Republic of South Africa.
Umalusi officials will be deployed to monitor the conduct of examinations and marking of scripts to ensure strict adherence to health and safety protocols for COVID-19.
On 25 September, the Basic Education Department’s issued a protocol on the writing of the exams in compliance with the COVID-19 requirements.
According to the protocol, candidates who miss the writing of certain papers due to testing positive for COVID-19, should automatically be registered for the subjects that they have missed, to write during the May/June 2021 examinations.
Candidates who tested positive for COVID-19, and have recovered as confirmed by a COVID-19 test report, may continue with the writing of the remaining subjects on the timetable.
However, candidates who decide not to continue with the writing of the remaining subjects should be accommodated in the May/June 2021 examinations.
(COMPILED BY INSIDE EDUCATION STAFF)