LISTEN | Teachers, matrics 'have had enormous pressure' ahead of exams

07 December 2020 - 18:14
Teachers' union Sadtu has threatened to interdict the basic education department, saying the rewrite is unfair and premature because investigations into the leaks have not been finalised.
Teachers' union Sadtu has threatened to interdict the basic education department, saying the rewrite is unfair and premature because investigations into the leaks have not been finalised.
Image: 123RF/Julija Sapic

With the end of the 2020 National Senior Certificate examinations quickly approaching, it is clear this examination period has given rise to its fair share of logistical glitches, with reports of cheating and leaked examination papers.

Dr Sara Black, postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg and research fellow on the Cases of Open Learning (COOL) project at the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at the University of Cape Town, explained why keeping the assessment method identical to previous years is a contributing factor.

“Educators and matric students in this particular exam cycle in 2020 have faced enormous pressure to ensure some kind of adequate curriculum coverage in the run-up to exams that were effectively already plagued before the pandemic arrived and which the DBE [department of basic education] has insisted keeping in its previous format, despite Covid-19,” she said.

Black said the issues about cheating and the leaking of exam papers should be looked at systematically and not morally.

“When we moralise we start to erase the conditions that produce types of behaviours. This is not to say that there is no choice in what people do, but choices are not made in circumstances of our own choosing.

“I would predict that these issues will continue to accelerate if we continue to expect schools to operate in the conditions they now operate in.”

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Basic education minister Angie Motshekga announced on Friday that mathematics paper 2 will be written on Tuesday December 15 and physical science paper 2 on Thursday December 17.

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) anticipates filing an urgent court application before the end of the day to interdict the department of basic education’s decision for matrics to rewrite the leaked maths and science exam papers.

Sadtu’s Nomusa Cembi said they were preparing documentation for the application.

“We are busy putting together the documentation, which we ought to submit before the end of today,” she said on Monday.

The department signalled it would oppose the Sadtu court action.

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