NATIONAL NEWS - Thursday marks the start of the countdown until the consolidated 2020 matric exams, which will officially commence in 34 days.
This according to Education Minister Angie Motshekga who was speaking at a briefing on the changes affecting the education sector under level 1.
“It is now 34 days to the start of the NSC examination for the matric class of 2020! We, therefore, appeal to parents, guardians, and communities to rally behind all the candidates who will be writing their final exams this year. It is an extraordinary time for them and all of us, but they need the support more,” said Motshekga.
As part of changes made to the school calendar to accommodate days lost during the national lockdown, the June Senior Certificate examination was postponed, and will now be written together with the November exam, according to Motshekga.
“The examination timetable for the combined June and November examination had to be amended so that this examination commences in November, instead of October 2020, as was initially planned.
“The combined examination makes this the largest public examination that has been administered in our country. More than 1 million candidates, will sit for the examinations; and we certainly have never had to manage a number that large before. It is going to be a huge task, but one that we will need to ensure it is managed and coordinated smoothly.”
The 2020 exams will begin on 5 November and conclude on 15 December 2020.
The minister assured all those concerned that all examination centres, both public and independent, have been audited, in preparation for the 2020 combined examination.
“A protocol, to ensure compliance with Covid-19 protocols, has been developed and distributed, to guide all the chief invigilators, invigilators, and all other officials involved in the management of the conduct and administration of the examination. All provincial education departments have secured the extra rooms at existing examination centres, that are needed for the writing of the combined 2020 November grade 12 examinations.”
Teachers with comorbidities, who were granted concessions to work from home under lockdown level 3 and 2 were expected to return to work under level 1 which commenced on 21 September.
“In May this year, an agreement was reached at the Education Labour Relations Council that in Lockdown Level 3 and 2, teachers with comorbidities would be granted concessions to work from home.
“On the 16th of September, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would be going to Level 1, effective from 21st September. The effect of that announcement was that the Collective Agreement with the unions had also ceased to exist, and that teachers granted concessions, are expected to report for duty.”
Extracurricular activities will resume
The department has proposed that non-contact sport training and physical activities in schools should resume under level 1, subject to compliance with measures to prevent and combat the spread of Covid-19.
“We will gazette new Directions in this regard once the processes have been completed.”
Bullying and violence amongst learners
Since more children have been allowed to return to school the department has observed several incidents of violence among learners.
“We are working with stakeholders to address this challenge, which is a microcosm of the general society. We will revive our school safety management structures; including the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC), and school governing bodies to immediately deal with bullying and violence among learners.”
Extension of the school year
“We have revised the Annual Teaching Plans to extend to next year” to allow for catching-up lost learning, or learning recovery.
Motshekga further announced that the DBE is in the process of creating reading benchmarks for African languages and EFAL for the early grades, drawing on both regional and international experience.
“The first language bench-marks to be released will be for the Nguni languages, since they can be developed from currently existing data.”
Schools will reopen on 25 January 2021 and this will officially be gazetted in the school calendar on Friday, 2 October.
“We are fully aware that the country needs the school calendar for effective planning purposes and we have worked hard to ensure it is done properly; taking into account the disruptions that have occurred in 2020. We will need to carry over some of the curriculum work into 202 and we have done our best to accommodate the interests of everybody.”