Matric will be tougher

2008-07-21 00:00

The national Education Department is confident about the state of readiness of matriculants around the province, who will be writing the first national examinations under the new outcomes-based curriculum, but pupils should brace themselves for tougher exams.

Ministerial spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele said because there is no grading system (standard or higher grade) this year and everyone will be writing the same papers, there might be concerns around the issue of difficulty. However, he said measures have been put in place to ensure pupils’ readiness.

“On the administrative side, we are ready and we are quite positive that pupils are adequately prepared. There are still areas that require attention, but … that is being addressed,” he said.

He would not specify what these areas are, but said there are about 140 days left to iron out those problems.

Local schools had different views on the state of preparedness of their pupils, some voicing serious concerns.

One principal said many teachers are in the dark because there are not enough exemplars (past papers) for them to get an overall view of what the standard is. “We are a little worried because with single exemplars you might think, this is the standard, only to find it has changed. But we are going full steam. We are teaching extra hours … we worked for the entire two weeks in the holidays …”

Another principal in the Northdale area complained that the Further Education Training (FET) outcomes-based curriculum was never piloted. “The outcomes-based methodology is a very good one because it is based on pupil-centred teaching. What is worrying for us, however, is the system was never introduced as an experiment to know what its strengths and pitfalls are …”

Most schools are happy that exams start at the end of October — later than usual. But one headmaster said the structure of the timetable is “illogical”.

“We have some students writing five papers within 24 hours. We have written to our district exams sections, we have written a complaint provincially and nationally … and there have been no answers …” he said.

Provincial spokeswoman Mbali Thusi said there have been a lot of interventions to familiarise schools with the new system. “Exemplar papers of all subjects were given to all schools. All provinces in partnership with the national department set up papers for trial examination … in some subjects common tests were written as an attempt to familiarise learners with the new standards,” she said.

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