As matriculants across the country gear up for their end-of-year examinations, it has emerged that only around 63.7% of learners in the Western Cape are ready to write.
The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has reviewed the readiness of matriculants and noted that although many students in the Western Cape are not yet adeqautely prepared, these and students from Durban are still the most prepared in the country.
“Subject-specific intervention was the primary focus (at schools) because it determines the success at the end of the year. The third-quarter oversight visits, after winter schools, was done to determine readiness,” Cheryl Weston, Western Cape Director for Further Education and Training, said to IOL. “We reviewed 265 schools and noted that candidates in the Western Cape and Durban were the most prepared for their final exams.”
She added that last-minute initiatives to improve the scores students receive across various subjects are being implemented throughout South Africa, and these scores were collected from learner performance in mock exams. The Department of Basic Education has also been ‘tying up loose ends’ with regards to the moderation of papers and exam quality assurance.
“We zoomed into different aspects when reviewing the system to see what didn’t work well in 2017 so we can improve. There were seven key focus areas to improve, including quality of question papers, management of irregularities and focus areas for intervention,” said Priscilla Okubajo, Department Director of Exams. “With regard to readiness, we have finalised registration of candidates and questions papers have been set. Learners wrote prep exams, monitored by the department; we’re completing the second phase and conducted auditing of district examination systems.”
Okubanjo added that 147 question papers have been set and will be externally moderated by Umalusi for the 66 241 matriculants who will be writing in the Western Cape alone. Last year, 65 750 pupils completed their matric final exams.
For the very first time, National Senior Certificate examinations will be conducted in sign language for 58 deaf matric students across 10 schools. The question papers will be signed to the pupils to help them better understand what is being asked. The student will then respond by signing back, and this will be recorded as well.
“Fifty-thousand learners engage in the new subject, sign language, as a home language and it was written as trial exam nationally to correct what we need to before the final exam. Schools gave us feedback and they found challenges, such as the duration of the examination,” she said. “The duration was (the same) as all other home languages, but by the time pupils finished, they (the sign-language pupils) didn’t. The fastest learners to complete did so in 3½ hours and the slowest in four hours. Ten-minute reading also doesn’t suffice for sign language because they have to go through videos.”