Chaotic start to mid-year OBE exams

2008-06-02 00:00

The mid-year exams got off to a chaotic start yesterday as the confusion surrounding the Outcomes Based Education (OBE) programme grows.

Many schools complained they received papers on the day of the exam, while a number of prominent schools did not participate in the common exams because they received timetables late and had to compile their own exam schedules.

The headmistress of a Pietermaritzburg school said many schools were under the impression that there would be no mid-year exams as the new curriculum is proving to be a huge problem for the Education Department.

She said they wrote exams earlier in the year as part of their assessment process.

“Before, there was no stipulation of when to write the exam. You had x number of formal and informal exams you needed to write. And when we got the exam timetable, we had just finished writing our exams and already had our year and teaching strategies planned … I know of a number of other prominent schools who did not write yesterday either,” she said.

OBE was introduced in 2006 for grade 10s — now in grade 12.

In the past, exam papers were delivered to schools ahead of time, with only matric papers delivered on the day.

A local principal said this is important so that teachers can structure lessons properly.

“We have to mark the papers and we need to be able to remediate afterwards, which is why we need to have a fair understanding of the paper.”

The schools agreed that there are other logistical challenges.

“Firstly, there is testing in different rooms and different subjects. We need to sort out exams according to the required number. Now if we receive them just before 8 am, it becomes hard,” said another.

A principal in the Edendale area said he had to be at the exam office as early as 7 am yesterday to collect the maths papers. “It is so disruptive. My students are panicked about whether they will get their papers in time …”

Another principal voiced concern about mark allocations and the testing times that had been cut shorter than originally stated.

The Education Department said they are investigating and will respond today.

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