Stress of exam results

2007-11-24 00:00

WHILE many matrics across the country are elated to be closing the final chapter of their high school years and are anticipating a bright future, this season of waiting for results in which they find themselves might be the hardest one yet.

The 2007 Senior Certificate Examination marking starts tomorrow in 25 centres across the province, the Education Department has said, and is expected to finish on December 3. However, it’s only at the end of December that pupils will know how they have fared.

“I personally know I would be killed if I were to fail,” said Snenjabulo Zuma (18) of Heritage Academy, who wrote her last paper on Wednesday.

Zuma said her hardest paper to date was Afrikaans, but she ranked her all-round performance as a seven on a scale of one to 10.

Reagan Pather of Raisethorpe Secondary (18) admitted that the year has been marked by the worry of not finishing the syllabus, but said he was able to attend to the exams with confidence, thanks to his teachers.

“The waiting period is definitely the hardest. There is so much anxiety involved; you don’t know who is marking your paper; … you want to please your family and friends who have tolerated your moods and have been instrumental in you doing your best … ,” said Pather.

However, Pather, who considers himself a level thinker, said he would never consider suicide, no matter what happens.

“Well, I say no now, outside of the pressure of the real situation. But I feel there are so many opportunities out there now in South Africa. If you don’t get the seven As you were aiming for, it is not the end of the world. A skilled labourer can have just as much of a good career as other professionals,” he said.

Many principals said that their pupils are excited about their prospects and were confident their pupils would excel.

“We normally get a 100% pass rate and seldom get failures, unless if there is a genuine problem like loss of parents or a similar unfortunate situation … so I’m pretty hopeful we will maintain that standard,” said Jean Rose, headmistress at Russell High in Pietermaritzburg.

Over the years, matriculants have been known to resort to suicide as a result of the pressures of not doing well.

Clinical psychologist Smangele Mngoma said one of the challenges of curbing suicide is that children are not taught coping mechanisms.

“Children need to know how to deal with the stresses of life so that when a situation arises, they will be able to say ‘at school I was taught to do such and such’, instead of resorting to suicide. So awareness starts at primary level. But at the moment, prevention is still lacking in schools,” said Mngoma.

She said there are a lot of variables involved in dealing with crisis situations.

“It’s very difficult … because people have different coping scales. You have to consider personality and IQ. Are they mentally challenged or a border-line case? All that counts,” she explained.

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