EC matriculants share their thoughts on the final mother tongue exam paper

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Matric trial examination in the EC has IsiXhosa and Sesotho for the first time in history.
Matric trial examination in the EC has IsiXhosa and Sesotho for the first time in history.

The long-awaited mother tongue education pilot project has been completed in the Eastern Cape this term, with matric students having finished writing the papers with the option to read and answer their Mathematics, Life sciences, and History papers in their home language. 

Read more: Eastern Cape matrics to test writing exams in mother tongue

Parent24 interviewed the Principal of Ramafole Senior Secondary School in Mount Fletcher, Mr Pitso Potso, and his students, about their experiences of the life sciences paper.

50% of his students have Sesotho as their home language and 50% have isiXhosa as their home language.

Mr Pitso hinted that there was no early communication from the department of education to the schools about the language choices and how this will work for the learners, which resulted to students choosing to write in English.

This could be due to the fear that the use of a home language could impact their performance negatively, because it is something they have never done before, said Mr Pitso.

This is understandable, because writing examinations in isiXhosa or Sesotho in the last year of schooling when throughout they have been writing in English, can seem risky for the learners.

He also said that part of the reasons could be the lack of early communication with regards to the language choices available to students during these trial exams.

Also see: EC Department of Education on mother tongue pilot project for 2020 matric exams 

What students thought

Students from Dinizulu Senior secondary school were eager to let us know about their experiences of the first life sciences question paper.

Students told Parent24 that their teachers told them beforehand that the question papers will be in English and isiXhosa.

However, the teachers advised the students to read the question paper in isiXhosa and answer in English.

The reason for that advice was based on teachers predicting that some students might end up code switching - using both languages -  in their answers.

This is not allowed, and might lead to the student not being marked or being failed.

Matriculant Asiphe told us that she read and wrote the paper in English, because she thought there was no use reading in isiXhosa if she was to write in English.

She also thought that choosing isiXhosa for reading will confuse her as the life sciences terminology is hard to understand and she has to translate the knowledge consumed in Xhosa to English anyway.  

Nandipha told us she read the paper in isiXhosa and that it was difficult to understand some of the terminology, even though such terminology was followed by an explanation.

She says that one needed a deeper understanding in isiXhosa to understand some of the words that were written in that question paper.

She explained that "some words were not translated in some parts of the question paper, for example, words like: sperm, testes, scrotum were not translated, even though a vague explanation was given to explain what a scrotum is because that is where most of the case study focused."   

The right direction?

One excited matriculant took to Twitter to share the first-ever grade 12 mathematics question paper translated into IsiXhosa: 

Share your stories and questions with us via email at Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Don't miss a story!

For a weekly wrap of our latest parenting news and advice sign up to our free Friday Parent24 newsletter.

Follow us, and chat, on Facebook and Twitter.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 1433 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
49% - 6491 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
37% - 4878 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
4% - 473 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.