All set for the biggest test

2008-10-28 00:00

IT appears that things are well on track for the anxiously awaited matric finals starting today.

National Education Department spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele said they go into the exams with confidence of the department’s readiness to administer reliable and credible examinations, in addition to pupils’ readiness to tackle them.

Almost 592 000 matriculants have registered to write the first National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination in 6 500 examination centres across the nine provinces — 152 341 of them in KZN.

Ngqengelele said all the provinces have shown high levels of security and preparedness.

School-level invigilators have been trained, and 35 000 markers appointed, with special attention paid to appointing additional highly experienced teachers as markers.

In KZN, over 10 000 markers will take on this mammoth task from December 3 to 10.

This year’s grade 12 pupils have to contend with a whole lot of firsts. The examinations are set on a new curriculum, known as the National Curriculum Statement.

Secondly, the papers are set in only one grade as higher and standard grade have been phased out.

All pupils are expected to take seven subjects with mathematics, or mathematical literacy, and life orientation now compulsory. Life orientation is internally assessed.

Ngqengelele said that while the NSC examination has some new aspects, “many other aspects remain the same”.

As in the past, pupils will write two South African languages, one at home language level and the other at second language level, which is now referred to as first additional language.

Ngqengelele said much of the content is the same as in the old curriculum, although it has been updated and is assessed in ways that require deeper levels of understanding and comprehension.

To pass, pupils must obtain a minimum of 40% in three subjects, one of which must be a home language, while only 30% will be expected in three other subjects.

While these standards have been criticised as low, Ngqengelele offered this explanation: “No learner should aim to achieve these minimum requirements. All learners should aim to achieve the highest marks possible. Secondly, the requirements are more demanding than for the old matric. Learners are required to pass six subjects and cannot pass on aggregate mark. In addition, the examinations are pitched at a higher grade level and are in this way more demanding.”

KZN Education MEC Ina Cronjé said the department is pulling out all the stops to ensure that pupils get all the support they need to prepare themselves.

She urged pupils to make full use of all support material that has been made available.

“The only secret for success is hard work. Over and above the two sets of exemplar papers, learners must make sure they use the two sets of exemplars with memoranda, two sets of Study Mates and KZN 12.

“Candidates should not panic, teachers and our officials are there to assist them,” she said.

Cronjé added that pupils can go to district offices to get exemplars.

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