Johannesburg – Well wishes have flooded in for nearly 800 000 matric pupils who began their final examinations on Monday.
Parliament’s Basic Education portfolio committee chairperson Nomalungelo Gina called on Grade 12s to maintain focus.
"We would like to wish all candidates the best of luck with this upcoming NSC examinations. We urge them to continue working hard and to keep their focus. This is a culmination of the last 12 years of schooling. Do not to lose focus now, as the goal posts are in sight," she said in a statement.
Gina said areas that experienced instability during the year, such as Limpopo, had to work harder.
Schooling was disrupted in Vuwani in September when residents launched another shutdown in protest over a long-standing feud with the Municipal Demarcation Board.
They have been protesting since 2015, after the demarcation board removed their area from the Makhado municipality and placed them under Lim345.
In 2016, 30 schools were either torched or vandalised during violent protests over demarcation.
"Candidates need to put in the extra effort to ensure they are successful. Educators have done their utmost to ensure the curriculum was completed and learners had make-up lessons."
'Create the best conditions'
She further called for parents, friends, educators, officials and communities to help "create the best conditions for these learners to study".
Foreign languages including Hindi, Gujarati, Arabic, Italian, Spanish and Modern Greek were written on Monday.
Examinations will end on November 28, with Agricultural Management Practices scheduled as the final paper.
KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have the largest enrolments for exams this year, with 169 023 and 112 164 pupils respectively.
Limpopo has 110 639, while Eastern Cape registered 92 755 candidates for the 2017 exams.
Mpumalanga has 70 941, the Western Cape 65 675, North West 40 118, the Free State 32 399 and the Northern Cape has 13 020 candidates.
Chairperson for the select committee on education and recreation, Lungelwa Zwane, also wished matrics well for their exams.
"The work done throughout the year and in many preceding years has prepared them to do well in these exams. All that’s left is to continue with their preparations and focus on the goal of doing well in the exams."
Do not copy
Zwane cautioned pupils on the folly of copying.
"We urge learners to be vigilant and to desist from any temptation to cheat the system in one way or another, because the repercussions can be devastating to their futures. Learners are also urged to report any cases if they arise," she said.
Meanwhile, ANC Youth League spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize challenged matriculants to improve on last year’s results.
"We hope that these matriculants will be able to reach 90% to 100% pass rate. We hope to see an increase in the pass rate of mathematics, physics, accounting and other subjects of low pass rate, particularly those subjects that deal critical skills which we require as the country."
The pass rate in 2016 was 76.2%.
Mkhize called on the department to maximise its security measures "so as to avert examination papers leaking, thus compromising the integrity of examination papers and learners who are writing such papers".
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said that in many areas, pupils would study until the late hours of the night, and travel under the cover of night to go back to their homes.
“We call on [police] to patrol roads and schools to ensure no leaner studies under any fear of thugs. Each generation of grade 12 learners deserves the full support of the community and parents to sustain the emotional stress of writing exams.”
The 2016 matric results at two Limpopo schools were withheld after exam papers were leaked on social media.
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