Mpumalanga ready for matric exams

2012-10-15 16:54
Classroom (Picture, <a href=\\\\>Shutterstock</a>)

Classroom (Picture, Shutterstock)

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Johannesburg - Mpumalanga has not received complaints of reported manipulation of matric results by independent schools ahead of the start of final exams, an official said on Monday.

"We don't know about this," said provincial education spokesperson Jasper Zwane.

"And what disturbs us is that for the whole year these allegations were not made," he said.

He was responding to a weekend news report that at least 10 independent schools had created lists of pupils they thought were likely to pass and those who were likely to fail.

Those likely to fail were reportedly not registered for the final exams and got photocopied exam papers. These were not submitted with the other papers and the school got a higher pass rate. The pupils were told they had failed or that they had got no results.

This was reportedly done at 10 schools at the end of 2011.

It was done to keep the schools' pass rates up and to justify their fees.

In 2009, the province's pass mark was 47.9% and for 2011, 64.8% - an increase of 16.9 percentage points.

According to the report, pupils were given answers on overhead projectors.

Zwane said that if this had happened, people could complain about it to the school principal, or to the education department's circuit or regional offices.

It could also be raised with department officials, who regularly participated in radio calls on talk shows.

According to the article, three schools in Mpumalanga did this. All three schools denied it when asked.

The Independent Schools' Association of SA (Isasa) said it had never in its history dealt with a complaint of this nature, and it was the first time this had come to its attention.

Sandile Ndaba, director of policy and government relations at Isasa, said in response to questions that Isasa believed the schools implicated were actually private examination centres exploiting a policy loophole that allowed them to register as an exam centre without being attached to any school.

The loophole created "fly-by-nights", which operated below the radar and used registered examination centres to enrol their candidates for the matric examination.

"None of the fly-by-night independent schools belong to an independent school association, because they would not meet membership conditions," said Ndaba.

"Furthermore, they have no intention to become members of independent school associations because they want to escape official notice and scrutiny."

Currently, there are no uniform national regulations for registering independent schools and each province promulgates its own regulations.

The regulations for registering examination centres, including private ones, on the other hand, are national.


Isasa recommended that loopholes for unscrupulous operators be closed by developing national guidelines for registration.

It proposed the withdrawal of registration of independent schools and aligning these with the provincial Conditions for Registration and Withdrawal of Registration of Independent Schools, and Regulations for the Registration of Private Examination Centres.

Isasa's member high schools in Mpumalanga are: Cambridge Academy (secondary), Flamboyant School (senior), Uplands College, and Penryn College.

It would be "inconceivable" to not get results from an Isasa school, said Ndaba, who also recommended lodging a complaint with Umalusi, the qualifications authority, if a pupil could not get a matric result.

The Mpumalanga education department said it was ready for the exams, with 56 337 candidates ready to sit.

There were 48 987 full-time candidates and 7 350 part-time candidates.

Exams start next Monday with English paper one and end on 28 November with the writing of dance, and electrical technology.

Marking takes place from 28 November until 14 December in 18 centres.

Security has been enhanced.

Education MEC Reginah Mhaule wished "the class of 2012" well and asked parents and communities to support them by creating a conducive environment.

If all went according to plan, the only threat left would be unpredictable weather, Zwane said.

African Eye News Service reported that the department was in discussion with local governments and the SA National Defence Force to ensure children got to exam centres and that exam papers were delivered in the case of heavy rain.

The province hoped to see an improvement in its pass rate from 64.8% to 74.8% and was aiming for 80% by 2014.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  education

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