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Dept scraps final exams for Grade 10 and 11 pupils

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GRADE 10 and 11 pupils in the Northern Cape will not write examinations at the end of this year.

Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

GRADE 10 and 11 pupils in the Northern Cape will not write examinations at the end of this year.

This is according to a directorate sent to schools by Basic Education Department director-general Mathanzima Mweli. According to the directorate, schools must set tests for these two grades, a move that effectively cancels common paper examinations this year.

“No common examinations/tests to be administered in Grades 10 and 11,” Mweli said in a circular.

The school-set “controlled” tests should only cover what a school has been able to teach during the pandemic-hit year and not the entire syllabus.

“Controlled tests should only be set on content taught, content not taught cannot be assessed,” Mweli said.

This means that schools that have taught just a portion of the curriculum should test pupils on the little that the pupils have learnt.

Teaching and learning has been unequal between rich and poor schools during the lockdown.

Pupils from affluent schools largely continued to receive core education during the lockdown while their poor counterparts were left behind.

A study done by JET Education Services, a Joburg-based research organisation, interviewed 16 families – seven of which sent their children to public schools, three to former Model C schools and six to independent schools.

“All independent and Model C schools attended by children in the sample had given learners work to do during lockdown; only two public schools had done so,” said the study.

Mweli conceded that schools have covered the curriculum variably this year.

“The additional loss of teaching time due to rotational attendance, Covid-19 infections, and the additional four-week closure has resulted in a variable completion of the Annual Teaching Plans.”

Mweli further directed the schools to pass pupils largely on marks they obtained during yearly assessments.

“The final tests marks should weigh less than the yearly marks, contrary to established standards. The current 25% weighting of School Based Assessment is increased to 60% and the examination component which is currently 75% is decreased to 40% resulting in a 60:40 weighting as opposed to the current 25:75 weighting.”

He stressed that the interim interventions were due to the coronavirus.

“Covid-19 lockdown and the extended closure of schools has had a significant impact on schooling, learning and assessment. Therefore, promotion requirements for the year 2020 will not be effected as stipulated in the national policy,” he said.

Education unions agreed to the revised measures communicated by Mweli, National Teachers’ Union’s president Allen Thompson said.

The stakeholders took cognisance that a large number of public school pupils will proceed to the next grade without being curriculum-competent, Thompson said. “It’s a knock that we have to take,” he added.

“The country is not likely to recover next year. It will take at least three years to recover in terms of learners mastering the curriculum of a specific grade.”

“We believe that there’s a lot of continuous assessment that has been done at school level. We also believe that continuous assessment in South Africa is being undermined, while it is a true reflection of the performance of the learner throughout the year,” he said.