Johannesburg – More than 150 000 candidates have enrolled to write the matric exams this year, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said on Monday. With a total of 150 090 candidates having enrolled to write the exams, including 108 594 full-time and 41 496 part-time candidates, Gauteng was the leading province with the highest National Senior Certificate enrolments, Lesufi told reporters in Johannesburg. “It is also the only province where candidates will offer all 11 official languages and several foreign languages,” Lesufi added.The 2017 final NSC exams are expected to start on October 23. 'This is an opportunity of a lifetime'The Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga would release the results on January 4 2018, Education MECs would then release provincial results the next day on January 5 2018.The exams would be conducted in 881 exam centres across Gauteng. Lesufi urged matriculants to stay disciplined and focused on their course, despite any tension or problems they may be facing. “This is not a time for them to do wrong things like committing suicide. There is pressure of schools, pressure of parents and families, but our children must be given the opportunity to study in an environment that is conducive. This is an opportunity of a lifetime.” The marking of papers would start from November 29 to December 14, 2017. A total of 9286 marking personnel would be appointed, Lesufi said.Supplementary and extra lessons were being provided in the form of the Secondary School Improvement Programme (SSIP) in preparation of the exams. The SSIP programme took place over weekends and during school holidays. It catered to 72 000 learners and focused on 10 subjects. Subject advisors had also conducted content workshops to support teachers based in under-performing schools, he said.He said measures had been put in place to distribute and secure the question papers, which included security agencies. The department wished the class of 2017 all the best for the exam period. “We call on all parents, guardians and members of the community to support the learners and give them the space to study and prepare for exams.” A learner who needs professional assistance or counselling can contact the Child Care on their toll free line 0800 055 555 or Child-line Gauteng at 011 645 2000.