Matrics slam union’s call for ‘lenient’ marks

2010-12-02 00:00

MATRICULANTS in local township schools are strongly opposed to suggestions by teachers’ union Sadtu that black pupils need to marked more leniently to make up for the fact that they are not taught in their mother tongue, and attend under-resourced schools.

The union also referred in its call to the effects of its own strike, and the lengthy World Cup holiday.

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union was reported yesterday as calling for a marking process biased in favour of black pupils.

However, matriculants who spoke to The Witness yesterday took exception to the call. One of them said: “For me that belief is no different than that of the apartheid system, which made idiots out of us.” (See story on page 2)

A principal, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he failed to understand what lenient marking meant.

“Does that mean a wrong answer must be marked right? What does that mean exactly? Because before they mark papers, teachers are supposed to write the same paper so that all the possible ways of answering a question can be explored and then they come up with the decision based on those discussions.”

Explaining his comments, Sadtu secretary-general Mbuyiseni Mathonsi said the union is not implying that black pupils be given free marks.

He said marking, like teaching, needs to take into account “regression and transformation”.

“The National Curriculum Statement itself calls for a different interpretation of a phenomenon, which lends itself to different but related answers. But the set-up at this stage is so confined that our learners are disadvantaged even if they answer correctly,” he added.

“While Afrikaans pupils can write exams in their mother tongue, black pupils, who make up 76% of matrics, don’t have that luxury.

“The reality is a that a black African child of working-class background fails before writing [exams]. “Government needs to quickly move into developing vernacular languages in line with Section 8 of the Language Bill so that blacks have an option of writing in a foreign language as well as their own for better comprehension,” added Mathonsi.

Granville Whittle, spokesperson for the Basic Education Department, said Minister Angie Motshekga hasn’t the intention, the authority or the mechanisms to adjust the marks of the National Senior Certificate examinations.

However, he said, the process of standardisation, where raw marks are tested, was undertaken under the auspices of the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi).  Whittle said the performance in each subject is analysed statistically and qualitatively to ensure that the current performance was in keeping with performance in previous years.

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