Which are better, public or private school exams?

2018-01-14 06:03

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Although he denies saying the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) should be scrapped, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi’s reported statements have sparked some debate about which is better between the exams at government and private schools.

Last week, Lesufi reportedly said he wanted all matrics to write the same exams, and that one independent body should set exams for all.

So what is the difference between the private school curriculum and exams and those at state schools? Not much, say education experts.

Basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said public and private schools use the same National Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement.

“Whether the schools write IEB or the NSC [national senior certificate] exams, it makes no significant difference to the pupil as he or she would have been exposed to the same curriculum content,” he said, adding that both exams were quality assured by Umalusi, the quality council for general and further education and training.

IEB chief executive Anne Oberholzer said the IEB fully supported the NSC.

“The NSC has been internationally bench marked by Umalusi and the UK National Recognition Information Centre. The findings are that the NSC is a fit-for-purpose school-leaving qualification that is sufficient for entry to most universities in the UK, the US and Australia, as well as a number of countries in Africa and other parts of the world.”

But Oberholzer said the IEB had a different approach to the assessment of pupils, which did not “necessarily mean they were more difficult”.

“The IEB focuses its assessment on understanding and application of key concepts, knowledge and skills in a discipline. When IEB pupils are faced with questions that probe understanding, they know how to engage as they have been taught in a way that prepares them for this approach. Our focus is to shape pupils with evolved levels of critical thinking and to challenge the levels of quality in all that
we do.”

Oberholzer said it should be noted that preparing children for matric exams, university and their careers happens at home, at schools and among the pupils.

“Rather than focus on differences in an examination, we should be looking at what we know is needed to bring well-rounded, well-prepared young people through a functional education system and into the world of work,” she said.

“Our concern should not be a competition between examinations in Grade 12, but rather attention to issues that hinder pupils in their attempt to get through the system. There are a significant number of pupils who leave the system without any certificate at all. This is the real tragedy.”

Lesufi said a proposal about the need for a single national examination body had been misinterpreted as an “attempt to lower standards”.

Read more on:    education  |  youth

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