South Africa: On Friday Mpumalanga department convened a meeting of the Heads of the Education Department from all provinces. The purpose of the meeting was to reflect on the first whole week of the NSC examinations.
In that meeting, the Heads expressed their appreciation for the work done thus far in terms of the administration of the examinations, which is one of the biggest in recent years.
Department also recalled their last week’s report that this examination has 921,000 candidates writing in 6 800 centres around the country.
It is, therefore, a mammoth task to ensure that every candidate is catered for and that their needs are met at every instance for smooth examinations.
On Saturday, the department also met with the stakeholders, teacher unions, the Professional Bodies that include Principal Associations, the Education Management Association of South Africa (EMASA), SANASE, an Association of Principals of Schools of Learners with Special Education Needs and indeed the School Governing Body Associations.
In all the meetings, a huge concern was raised regarding the factors reported to be posing a threat to the administration of the examinations.
Dr Rufus Poliah, the Chief Director for National Assessments and Public Examinations, will make his technical presentation and provide details of what has taken place just this past week alone. Based on the presentation, it is clear that there is a lot to be concerned about.
This media briefing has come about as a result of a passionate please by the stakeholders, who also noted with concern the disturbing occurrences that were reflected in the report department presented to them.
Therefore, they also appeal to the community members to allow the examinations to proceed.
The repercussions for not doing so are devastating to the learners and the communities themselves, as it is the children of the same communities that suffer the consequences.
In Etwatwa in Gauteng, 53 learners could not write the exams as gunshots were fired in the area they were in.
There were also disruptions in parts of the Northern Cape, even though writing eventually took place. The environment needs to be more conducive.
In the case where learners are not able to write the examination, it means that they will rewrite the missed papers only in May/June next year. That is unfair to the learners who have already endured a lot due to COVID-19, among other challenges.
According to the MEC of the Mpumalanga Department, “We are entering another week of the National Senior Examinations, and we appeal to members of the public to support the learners, refrain from blockading roads and storming schools, but we also appeal to learners to stop bringing crib notes and cellphones into the examination centres.”
We have also had to deal with reported cases where some schools denied learners the right to sit for the NSC exams because they were pregnant, said MEC.
The National Policy on the Prevention and Management of Learner Pregnancy states that barring a learner from school on the grounds of pregnancy is discriminatory.
A pregnant learner shall be allowed to sit for national examinations if her health permits.
In collaboration with parents/guardians, the school principal and staff shall take all reasonable steps to accommodate the learner’s learning, health and maternal needs during the examination period.
In the end, he concluded by thanking all officials involved in administrating the National Senior Certificate Examinations for the sterling work done under difficult conditions.
The rainy season does not make it any easier either, but we pray that it does not escalate into a crisis.
He also thanks the sister departments, such as SAPS, Defence, Health, Social Development, and Weather Services, who are always available to provide support.