NATIONAL NEWS - The Department of Basic Education announced on Wednesday that the number of matric exam paper markers and personnel who tested positive for Covid-19 was not alarmingly high.
During a media briefing led by the department’s director-general Mathanzima Mweli, the department’s director for national assessment and public examinations, Priscilla Ogunbanjo, said a total of 312 markers and personnel, 0.7%, tested positive for Covid-19, either on arrival at the marking centres or soon after the commencement of the marking on 4 January.
Ogunbanjo said some of the markers had tested positive while at the gate of the marking centres and were not allowed into the premises, while others who had been close to someone who tested positive had asked to be released.
Three markers from KwaZulu-Natal and one from each of the following provinces, Gauteng, Limpopo, Western Cape and the department’s centralised marking centre died due to Covid-19, Ogunbanjo said.
Ogunbanjo said the department sends its condolences to the families and colleagues of those who died due to Covid-19.
Ogunbanjo gave the assurance that strict Covid-19 protocols were observed and adhered to at the marking centres.
The department has started with capturing the marks, with 611 capturers appointed throughout all provinces, Ogunbanjo said.
Two capturers from the Eastern Cape were reported to have tested positive for Covid-19, Ogunbanjo said.
Mweli said load shedding had caused very little disruption to the marking process, with a minimal impact to mark capturing.
Ogunbanjo said centres where mark capturing is taking place but there are no back up generators to ensure power remains on in the event of load shedding, capturers plan their days around Eskom’s load shedding schedule. Ogubanjo added that there are very few mark capturing centres that do no have back up generators.
On 12 February the department will report irregularities to Umalusi, and on 19 February, preliminary data will be released to the Department of Higher Education and the results are expected to be released on 22 February.
Mweli said the two leaked exam papers would be included in the irregularities to be reported to Umalusi.
Mweli said an extensive investigation had been conducted around the leaking of the papers and the findings of the investigation will be part of the report on irregularities to be given to Umalusi.