- Matrics would have completed the curriculum by the time the NSC exams commence on 5 November, Minister Motshekga says.
- Motshekga says the department is looking at managing anxiety among pupils as exams loom.
- The minister says printing of papers is already underway.
Grade 12 pupils are gaining back the teaching and learning time they lost due to Covid-19 and will be ready come 5 November, when the National Senior Certificate final exams officially commence, said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
Motshekga was speaking in Pretoria during a handover ceremony of sanitisers donated by Onderstepoort Biological Products.
The chemical company donated 10 000 litres of the sanitiser to the department to distribute to schools as they continued in their bid to ensure safety while welcoming back all grades.
Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza handed over the sanitisers to Motshekga on behalf of the company.
Motshekga also received donations of additional sanitisers from Sasol Energy.
Charlotte Mokoena, Sasol executive vice president: human resources and corporate affairs, handed over 80 000 litres of sanitisers to the minister.
Mokoena said the sanitisers would be delivered to quintile 1 to 3 schools in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.
Mokoena said Sasol had also distributed at least 25 litres of sanitiser to Early Childhood Development Centres in the provinces.
Last week, the national executive committee of the country's largest teachers' union - the South African Democratic Teachers' Union - called for a delay in the start of the matric final exams.
The union said it had noted that Grade 12 pupils, especially those from disadvantaged areas, would not be able to prepare for the exams because they had been on and off from teaching and learning.
On Monday, as schools prepared to welcome back the last cohort of pupils in Grade 5 and Grade 8, as well as those in Grade 4 and Grade 5 at schools for pupils with severe intellectual disabilities, executive director of the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), Basil Manuel, told News24 that there were still issues.
Among the issues raised by Manuel, were the replacement of teachers; the readiness of matrics ahead of the exams and the the "fairness" on the assessment.
But Motshekga said the department had met with unions, informing them that there would be no changes in the quality of the exams and the dates.
"We are not changing the paper. We have set the paper 18 months back and we're printing now in preparation for the exams, so that one is settled and we told them it is done and dusted. We are not going to change the quality of our matrics," the minister said.
Having returned to school in June and closing for a week from 27 July to 3 August, pupils in Grade 12 were able to catch up on the two months of work they had lost after having to close in March, Motshekga said.
Motshekga added that the biggest issue the department was worried about and was looking at was, however, is the anxiety faced by pupils and not so much whether the curriculum was not covered.
She said schools had put in hours in ensuring that work was covered ahead of the final exams - with some schools even operating over weekends.
Motshekga added that schools had also used the time when matrics were the only grades at school to catch up.
"In terms of the number of days, we just think they will be fine. The biggest problem is anxiety and that's what we are looking at.
"I won't be surprised that these kids can perform even better than previous grades because of the support that we have given them. But as I said, the biggest threat is the anxiety. By the time we write, we have counted the days, we have recovered those two months they have been home," the minister said.
Motshekga said initiatives such as the Woza Matrics catch-up programme would also play a role in assisting pupils to be ready for their exams.
The free-to-air television catch-up classes would be available from 1 September to 30 November and would broadcast content for major subjects such as Mathematics, Life Sciences, Physical Sciences and Accounting.
The programmes would be available on SABC 3, DStv packages, Openview channel 122 from 08:00 until 10:00 and 13:00 to 15:00 every day.