Cape Town – The decision to cancel the mid-year exams for matric learners to allow them time to cover the curriculum has been welcomed.
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA executive director Basil Manuel said pupils must remain in class for as long as possible to catch up with the syllabus.
SA Democratic Teachers Union general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the union supported the decision, because learners needed “a lot of time to recover from grade 11 work”.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told Parliament’s portfolio committee on basic education this week that the department wanted to keep learners in classrooms for as long as possible because of the impact of the pandemic on teaching and learning.
Committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said Motshekga told the committee that matric learners were the grade 11s of 2020 and already the whole curriculum was not covered. “They lost close to 60% of school time over the period.”
UWC Education faculty’s deputy dean of research, Rouaan Maarman, said the department was trying to adapt to the changing conditions of the pandemic.
Maarman said that without the envisaged vaccination roll-out, teachers would be exposed to the virus in schools, particularly now that there was a third wave/peak.
“The examination process is a big logistical exercise for Grade 12s, so I think the basic measures of distancing comes into play again for sit-down examinations,” he said.
He said he had reservations about the academic effect later in the year for the Grade 12s, as their June examination was usually used as a barometer to see where they were in terms of curriculum coverage and preparedness for the final examination.
Western Cape Education Department (WCED) Bronagh Hammond said the WCED has informed schools that should they wish to adapt the format of controlled tests to provide examination practice, they could make a request via the district to do so. However, the maximum utilisation of teaching time has to be guaranteed.
Educators Union of SA provincial chairperson André de Bruyn said the union feels that the learners have not been exposed to official exam conditions since last year.
He said, meanwhile, teachers feel they could have had a test run in order to prepare them for the examination.