Matric markers not ready

2008-11-17 00:00

THE marking of matric scripts this year has been described as a debacle by some teachers because of uncertainty and confusion over who is qualified to mark papers and at what venues.

It is feared that this might result in matric results being released late.

Teachers applied to be appointed to mark as early as March and by June selection had been finalised.

However, those selected have still not been informed. In the past, markers were confirmed by the first week of October.

Despite the pay on offer, many teachers said they cannot put their lives on hold while waiting for the Education Department to get its act together, and are starting to make other plans.

A department official, who wants to remain anonymous, said the department has been inundated with calls from teachers.

“They want to know if they have qualified and where they are going because logistics like transport and lodging have to be taken into consideration. We don’t know what to tell them because not even senior officials know what is going on,” he said.

He has already received calls from people who have booked holidays for the marking period, while others have said they will not mark if they have been assigned to other towns and rural areas.

“It is going to mean fewer markers and more work and might even mean going back to the list already rejected. It is bad planning on the department’s part, a worry and a looming disaster,” he said.

In October, MEC Ina Cronjé said that over 10 000 markers would be undertaking the task in 30 marking centres throughout the province.

However, schools said they are yet to receive anything in writing.

Local principals said they do not know how many teachers they are likely to lose for the last weeks of term.

To add to the confusion, schools that agreed to be used as marking centres said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to prepare for this.

According to the department official, what is more worrisome about not having markers confirmed by this stage is that the province has had no input in setting up the nationally accepted memo or answer sheet to go by.

“The point is, the department cannot duck and dive … People have a right to know what is going on,” he said.

Responding to the allegations, department spokeswoman Mbali Thusi said the department is within its schedule.

She said selection took longer this year because of the large number of applications, adding that the department had to take its time in identifying qualified markers for new subjects such as maths literacy.

Thusi said part of the challenge the department faced was the availability of marking centres, since it needs 20% more venues this year.

She said the process of approving these centres takes time, because they must be suitable for marking and suitable hostel accommodation must be found for the markers.

Furthermore, she said, the absence of differentiation of grading in question papers this year has complicated the allocation of centres.

“At this stage the chief directorate has completed the allocation of subjects and appointment letters have been released to districts … educators still have enough time to prepare their model answers and chief markers are attending memorandum discussion meetings after each and every paper has been written. Therefore, in terms of the marking exercise, we are within time.”

sphumem@witness.co.za

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