Matric 2020: It's all systems go but candidates with temperatures above 38°C to write in isolation

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Pupils in a classroom.
Pupils in a classroom.
Roger Sedres, Gallo Images
  • The Grade 12 final examinations will run from Thursday to 15 December.
  • Due to Covid-19, the education department has had to implement measures to ensure candidates remain safe.
  • It has also deployed people to monitor the exam sessions, as well as the distribution of question papers.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has said expert advice from the health department has resulted in it amending its matric examination writing protocols.

The DBE said it will now allow candidates presenting temperatures above 38°C to write exams – but in isolation.

According to the department, it is all systems go ahead of the commencement of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) final examinations from Thursday.

In total 1 058 699 candidates were expected to sit for the exams.

Due to Covid-19 the department was unable to run the June examinations, which will result in the combined examination for all candidates in November.  

A breakdown of candidate categories:
  • November NSC full-time: 616 021
  • November part-time: 113 846
  • June Senior Certificate: 167 733
  • June NSC full-time: 155 935
  • June NSC part-time: 5 164

The exams will run from Thursday until 15 December.

Candidates who present a temperature above 38°C during the screening process, will write exams in isolation and will not be allowed to associate with others after the exam, the department said on Monday.

"The condition of such learners will be closely monitored in subsequent examinations."

Daily reports

The department added that it will deploy part-time workers to monitor the writing and distribution of question papers to schools and centres. Exam marking will also be monitored. 

Daily reports will also be submitted to the department during the writing period and provinces would be expected to submit the final Irregularity Reports by Monday, 25 January 2021.

Online monitoring of the examinations will also be taking place.

"Parents and learners have participated in pledge signing ceremonies, committing to a credible and fair examination process, as well as to be made aware of the consequences if they are implicated in irregularities.

"Provinces have submitted plans for the finalisation of [the] majority of the irregularities prior to the release of results, and for the management of irregularities at the marking centre. Learners are once again urged not to resort to any irregular practice either before or during the examination and to bring to the attention of the school principal any information that may relate to a breach in the examination," it said.

Exam centres

New writing centres were identified to accommodate the large number of candidates who would be taking part in the combined examinations. The department said designated centres would mainly be used for the Senior Certificate and part-time candidates while those who were full-time will be writing at their schools.

The department said:

Both public and independent centres have been audited to ascertain the risk profile of the centre and compliance to Covid-19 protocol. Monitoring of the centre will be based on the risk profile of the centre.

Provincial departments have appointed private invigilators and private monitors to manage and assess the administration of the examinations at the designated centres.

Head office exam staff have trained invigilators as well as chief invigilators.

The department said provinces also completed the training of monitors at the end of October.

"Social distancing has been decreased to 1m, and this has assisted with the space provision for the writing of the examination. Provinces have completed the audit of examination centres. Centres have been categorised according to risk profile."


It added that provincial departments had completed their marker selection process and were currently managing a way forward for cases where shortages have been identified.

A plan for marking guidelines standardisation meetings (MSMs) has also been developed with face-to-face virtual modalities that will be used, the department said. It added that Umalusi was also participating in the sessions to ensure marking guides comply with the standard of question papers.

It said:

The department wishes all candidates who will sit for the final exams the very best in their endeavours to ensure success in this very important examination.

It also commended all pupils, teachers and School Management Teams for their resilience in braving the pandemic with the single goal of ensuring the matric class of 2020 received optimum support.

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