Testing, testing: All systems go as Western Cape education dept counts down 40 days to matric finals

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Western Cape Education MEC David Maynier
Western Cape Education MEC David Maynier
PHOTO: Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Die Burger
  • The 40-day countdown to the 2022 final matric exams has begun.
  • The Western Cape Education Department has put various measures and systems in place to better equip candidates across the province for success.
  • Load shedding remains an unsettling reality candidates have to contend with.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has marked a 40-day countdown until the final 2022 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams. 

Education MEC David Maynier said the department was well prepared and has gone to great lengths to ensure all candidates in the province have a chance at succeeding.

Maynier said the issue of load shedding was particularly concerning as matric candidates head into what could be regarded as one of the most stressful times of their young adult lives.

"Once again, we approach the exam period having to contend with load shedding. This is extremely disappointing and is understandably causing concern for our learners. We will do everything we can to prevent load shedding from compromising the integrity of the matric exams in the Western Cape," Maynier said.

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the Federation of Associations of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) both expressed concern about the impact ongoing load shedding would have on the matric class of 2022. 

Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said the matric class had already been working from a disadvantage, brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

She added:

Unfortunately these exams will be written under extreme load shedding circumstances. The current matric class was in Grade 10 when Covid-19 started. They have had to work harder to cover the curriculum adequately due to the pandemic.

Cembi said while teachers had done their best to prepare pupils for the exams, load shedding would have a negative effect on their preparation, especially when studying at home.

Sharing Sadtu's concerns over load shedding, Fedsas CEO Jaco Deacon pinpointed the need for provincial education departments to take stock of the measures they have in place to mitigate disruptions for pupils, with a particular focus on disadvantaged schools. 

"We have had a good year without disruptions in the education sector as far as Covid, labour unrest and weather is concerned. The concern now is load shedding. We plead with the provincial education departments to identify the vulnerable schools and districts and avail resources for additional lighting or generators so that students can at least work at school during load shedding," he said. 

Desks at venue prepared for Matric exams
The final countdown to 2022 final matric exams has begun and the Western Cape Education Department is set on candidates' success.

Deacon's concern was also the learning time lost at home. In his view, if pupils don't have access to resource alternatives, they will likely fall victim to load shedding. 

"The leadership in schools should plan for the next few weeks to assist learners, even if it’s only to create charging stations for them to be able to charge their devices for use at home when there is an outage," he said.

READ | Education sector concerned as impact of load shedding cuts down valuable teaching, studying time

"All those measures taken to ensure learners make it through Grade 12 during Covid should be done and we should have the same kind of urgency when dealing with load shedding. Let’s help learners overcome the burden by providing safe spaces for them to study."

Maynier said the matric revision support system had ensured that at least 23 000 pupils attend the spring school during these upcoming school holidays, following a successful winter school held earlier in the year.

The MEC said districts across the province had ensured pupils received the necessary support through after-school and weekend revision classes in key subjects, as well as providing exam support packs, holding online tutoring sessions and study camps.

The education department also emphasised the importance of the psycho-social aspect of ensuring a candidate’s success.

A statement from the department read:

Social workers have been on hand during residential camps, to support learners in need and to conduct motivational sessions with matriculants. Workshops are being run in schools, focusing on self-care, exam anxiety, study skills, motivation, time management, relaxation and stress management skills, and a host of other topics.

Maynier said contingency measures were being put in place to ensure every aspect of the examination process could continue, from the printing of papers to the marking of scripts.

"We call on Eskom and our local government partners to assist us in making sure that load shedding will not prevent our learners from achieving their best possible results in these exams," the statement said. 

Learners struggling to cope with the pressure are encouraged to approach their teacher for help, or to contact the Safe Schools hotline on 0800 45 46 47 (toll free).

Resources for Grade 12 pupils are available here: https://wcedeportal.co.za/resources-tosupport-grade-12-learning-and-teaching.

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