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Prelim pressure for city matrics

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Preliminary examinations are set to take place over only 10 days – meaning that most matric pupils will write every day

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STRESSED city matric pupils are facing even more pressure with their preliminary examinations set to take place over only 10 days – meaning that most will write every day.

The father of a local pupil said September 14 to 30 had been set down for the preliminary examinations. “This means that they write an exam every day and sometimes even more than one a day.”

He pointed out that when he attempted to obtain clarification, he was initially told that the dates for the exams were set by the national Department of Basic Education.

“I contacted a couple of schools around the country, including schools in Pretoria, Cape Town and even Bloemfontein. At some schools, for example Paul Roos, the matric learners had three and a half weeks to write, at Waterkloof they had a month in which to do their exams. At Oranje Meisieskool in Bloemfontein, they have already started writing their prelims,” said the father.

He said he was then told by the schools that provincial departments of education set the dates. “In Upington, however, at both Duineveld and Upington High, the matric learners have three and a half weeks. It seems that all schools in Kimberley, however, are writing over 10 days.”

He added that school principals, while they realised the stress that this pressure placed their pupils under, were not prepared to challenge the department. “The message I received was that the department paid the principals’ salaries and they were not going to put their necks out.

“Attending school, knowing that they were exposing themselves to catching the coronavirus placed incredible stress on our children, yet, in my child’s case, he went because he believed it was to his benefit. Now this stress has just been doubled by making them write an exam every day with no block days in between to prepare or refocus.”

The parent added that pupils who had not gone to school were being schooled in camps organised by the department. “They are receiving preferential treatment, while my child, who went to school, has to just struggle along without any additional support or help. If it was a case that some schools were not ready to open, then why did the department reopen schools?”

He stated further that he was not the only parent who was concerned about the situation.

“Our children are already stressed and now they are being put further on their nerves – and for what?”

The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Education, Lehuma Ntuane, said the national directive for the prelims was that they will take place between September 14 to 30.

“These dates only give the duration within which the prelims should be concluded by provinces. Some provinces can conclude earlier than the 30th of September and some can conclude on the last day of September.”

He added that “within these days, there is enough time for learners to prepare, for example during weekends and public holidays”.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, said that, in order to ensure that matriculants were not compromised by the late release of the Grade 12 results, Universities South Africa had agreed to extend the academic year to the end of February 2021.

Universities are expected to start their 2021 academic year in March or April next year.

This, Motshekga said, would ensure that potential students would still be able to get admitted to institutions of higher learning on time.

The minister said this when ministers in the Social Services Cluster responded to oral questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

“On August 24 this year, our Director-General (Mathanzima) Mweli met with Universities South Africa, which is the body that regulates admissions to higher education institutions, and they indicated that universities will be extending the 2020 academic year to the end of February next year.

“So while the opening of universities is not universal, we are certain that when we issue matric results on February 23 next year we will not be disadvantaging learners, because most universities will start their 2021 academic year in March or April next year,” she said.

This comes after the department announced last month that the 2020 Grade 12 examinations would be completed by December 15, with marking being concluded on January 22 and the results released on February 23, 2021.

The new school year will commence on January 25, 2021 for teachers and a few days later for pupils.