- Minister Angie Motshekga was monitoring the start of the NSC exams in Soweto along with MEC Panyaza Lesufi.
- She said an overwhelming pass rate would come as a bonus considering the circumstances around the 2020 academic year.
- She also said support would be given to pupils who do not do well in the exam to prepare them for next year June.
A matric pass rate of above 80% would be an honour, but a lower pass rate would not be a train smash either, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said.
Motshekga was speaking at Sekano-Ntoane Secondary School in Soweto on Thursday where she was monitoring the first day of the Grade 12 final examinations.
The minister said while she was hoping for good results, she would understand if some pupils didn't make it because it was "a difficult year for everybody".
Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi joined Motshekga and encouraged the pupils, who looked somewhat anxious as they sat at their socially distanced single desks with their timetables next to them.
The minister said the 2020 academic year was unprecedented, but she was grateful they had managed to ensure the exams would continue despite schools being shut for almost two months due to Covid-19.
"We are even committed because we have a June exam. Those who can't do well, we [are] going to support them more, [for them] to write in June. We accept that it was a very difficult year. We appreciate the teachers and everybody, including parents. Parents did all they could to support their children. And I think, as a nation, we should be very grateful for that," Motshekga said.
On Wednesday, the Department of Basic Education announced that an agreement had been reached with the Department of Health that pupils who tested positive for Covid-19 would be allowed to write exams.
The department initially issued guidelines which indicated that those who were positive would be excluded and would not be allowed to enter exam centres.
Motshekga said the Department of Health had stepped in to offer assistance if pupils tested positive.
She said the department would put protocols in place and ensure pupils with Covid-19 wrote exams in isolation.
Motshekga also said the agreement was a relief because it meant those who would not be able to write would only sit for their final exams in June 2021 because there would no longer be supplementary exams in January. She said that would have meant the year was a waste for the pupils.
She applauded teachers for their dedication in providing Saturday, Sunday and afternoon classes.
She expressed confidence that pupils might get outstanding results because they received extra support, which previous matriculants had not received.
Lesufi said he was thrilled because he never thought the exams would come.
"I know the long meetings we used to have with other MECs. In some instances, we had two meetings in the morning and three in the evening to review what we said in the morning because we were not sure."
He expressed joy that the day had finally arrived and that the teams had managed to prepare for the examinations under Covid-19 pandemic circumstances and pupils were finally ready to write.
"It's an amazing thing and we are thrilled and excited," he said.
Do you want to know more about this topic? Sign up for one of News24's 33 newsletters to receive the information you want in your inbox. Special newsletters are available to subscribers.