Scrap June exams, extend school hours - inside the Education Dept's draft recovery plan

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Could June exams be scrapped because of the coronavirus lockdown? (Getty Images)
Could June exams be scrapped because of the coronavirus lockdown? (Getty Images)

The Department of Basic Education's (DBE) draft framework for a curriculum recovery plan - post the Covid-19 lockdown - has revealed scenarios with recommendations which include scrapping the June examinations in order to save the schooling year.

Cancelling the June examinations would allow enough time for teaching and learning once the lockdown in the country is lifted. This is outlined in a lengthy draft document and a summary PowerPoint presentation, which News24 has seen.

READ | KZN schools begin new term online

The documents show that, while the consequences of the cancellation were not expected to be significant, it would also require the department to engage with relevant stakeholders, including higher education institutions which may require June results from Grade 12 pupils for the processing of applications for admission for 2021.

Implications

Another recommendation in the draft is that June examinations and school-based assessments be either postponed or brought forward in order to maintain their integrity. Another option is to modify their format.

"For instance, a special dispensation for the NSC (national senior certificate) examinations may have to be considered and internal examinations brought forward, if it comes to that extent.

"This will obviously have implications for the start of the 2021 academic year - issues relating to the quality assurance of examination results and entrance of learners in higher education institutions," a 40-page document draft stipulates.

To complement the time recovery listed above, there would be a need for curriculum trimming and curriculum reorganisation, the documents show, also stating that modifying the format of examinations may compel the sector to explore alternative formats.

Curriculum

The curriculum trimming and reorganisation, for the relevant grades, excluding Grade 12, might therefore include reducing the times for writing exams, or allowing pupils to take their exams online or through other formats for the first time in the history of the education system in the country.

However, the sector would need to explore these options and agree on the national approach in order to ensure the integrity and fairness of the examinations, the documents state.

READ | School holidays may be scrapped to salvage 2020 academic year, says Motshekga

Other recommendations to save the school year includes shortening the June and September holidays and extending the school closure to 9 December. 

The draft documents also focus strongly on the recovery plan of Grade 12s to ensure that they are not disadvantaged, as they have to leave the system and transition to the higher education phase.

It also outlines that for matrics, however, there should be no curriculum trimming and reorganisation.

It emphasises that the Grade 12 curriculum has to be recovered to ensure a smooth transition to higher education.

The drafts also outline that, given the importance of preparatory examinations for matrics, the examinations have to be written.

Other recovery recommendations are based on extending school hours and the learning week to six days. 

Rescheduled

Another recommendation, according to the document, was that the final NSC examinations be rescheduled to the first week of December.

"If the above proposal is found to be too strenuous, an alternative extreme measure would be for teaching of Grade 12 to be extended to December, with examinations only starting in January 2021, which implies that results may only be available in March of the following year. This will have an impact on universities and other higher education institutions."

If the lockdown is lifted at the end of April, the draft shows that schools open on 4 May for teachers and from 6 May for students in a phased-in resumption according to pupils' grades. 

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