THE Department of Basic Education says despite a huge number of markers pulling out of marking the matric exams, the process will be completed on time.
Over 1 600 teachers, mostly from Gauteng, have pulled out of marking in fear of contracting COVID-19.
Nearly 170 markers have been reported to have tested positive.
Over 40 000 markers have been appointed to mark matric papers across the country.
“There has been anxiety and fear among markers and their families to the extent that some of the marking personnel opted to withdraw from the process,” said Director-General Mathanzima Mweli.
Marking is expected to be completed by 22 January 2021.
“In the monitoring visits to the marking centres we have impressed upon our colleagues to do everything possible to avoid infections. We have pleaded with the management at centres to monitor compliance so as to avoid outbreaks,” said Mweli.
Mweli added that he was impressed with what he has seen in different provinces regarding the wearing of masks, social distancing and the availability and use of sanitisers.
On Monday, the Department held a briefing on progress made by markers as they entered week two of marking.
“All processes are on track to ensure that there is no delay in the release of matric results,” said Mweli.
The Department said it would also continue to monitor the marking process with a special focus on health and safety due to the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Nothing should be above health and safety in the marking centers, not even the standard of marking. The standard of marking must remain subordinate to health and safety as a priority,” Mweli.
Matric results are expected to be released in February.
“We held a session with our key stakeholders at the weekend; we met with school governing body associations, principal associations, and civil society and teacher unions,” said Mweli.
“The engagement has been fruitful and the support extremely useful. It is because of this commitment from colleagues in the marking centres that as a sector we feel that we are still on schedule to complete marking as scheduled on 22 January 2021,” said Mweli.
Meanwhile, the South African Democratic Teachers union (Sadtu) in KwaZulu Natal has expressed concern on marking centers in the province.
“Since markers reported for duty there are cases where the Union has intervened, which include a large number of teachers who did not have accommodation,” Sadtu said in a statement.
The teachers union said it had sent out monitors to check that the safety of the markers is not compromised as they complete their work during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, SADTU said it had found that some markers’ health has been compromised.
“SADTU monitors have been visiting centers and, in some centers, compliance is highly compromised. Markers were found chatting in large groups,” the union said in a statement.
SADTU added that the Department had told them that there is a compliance officer in each center and they called upon these officers to take full responsibility for compliance related matters in their centers.
“We wish our markers all the best as they execute such an important task as Grade 12 learners and their parents are waiting for the best,” added the union.
(SOURCE: INSIDE EDUCATION)