Worries on exam readiness

2008-08-28 00:00

Teachers in Pietermaritzburg say they are not ready for matric exams despite assurances by the national Education Department.

Basil Manuel, provincial chairman of the National Association of Professional Teachers of SA, yesterday expressed grave concern about the lack of readiness at many schools. Matric trial examinations are due to begin next Monday.

He criticised the department for failing “our children”, saying principals and teachers have been left to grope in the dark, despite promises made by the Education minister and KZN MEC.

Earlier this month, Minister Naledi Pandor said her department has measures in place to help the estimated 600 000 grade 12s who will be writing final exams in their new format from the end of October.

A group of “concerned mathematics educators” called for the scrapping of the new maths curriculum, saying it is inaccessible to most pupils.

Schools have been promised study guides containing examination and assessment examples to offer pupils guidance on the standards of the exams.

But according to Manuel, no high schools in this region have received the promised Study Mate guides.

“The promised Old Mutual maths questions and answer books and the maths 911 guides have also not been delivered. We are setting our children up for failure because of the lack of interest and incompetence of some officials,” he said.

Adding to their frustrations, local principals said they have been asked to collect exam question papers for the trials tomorrow and Sunday.

The Witness understands that this is to accommodate a planned meeting by the exams department happening yesterday and today.

Principals voiced concern that picking up papers over the weekend will not give them enough time to check for errors, and that they have been sent the right papers.

Many complained that the exams department is in a “shambles”, with a bad attitude.

“This will be the first examination under the new curriculum. Educators and students need all the support they can get, which is why these trial examinations are so crucial. They count towards the continuous assessment marks and if the study guides don’t arrive in time, that would have been a valuable opportunity missed,” said one principal.

Another said that although teachers have done a lot to ensure pupils are prepared, there is a fair amount of anxiety.

However, national department spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele said study guides were sent to all their districts across the country.

“To my knowledge they were sent to all 247 of our districts on the week [August 4]. But we appeal to all schools that have not received the study guides and all supporting materials to call 0800 202 933 for assistance.”

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