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‘Schools have flexible assessment plans to accommodate Covid challenges’

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Each school in the Province will compile its own test papers in order to assess pupils

Schools in the Province will have flexible mid-year assessments. File image. Picture Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

WITH a number of schools in the Northern Cape having to close because of Covid-19 cases, the provincial Department of Education has pointed out that schools have flexible mid-year assessment plans to accommodate the challenges of the pandemic.

Mid-year examinations were supposed to commence this week, but pupils across the country will again give the process a miss due to the Coronavirus.

The Northern Cape Department of Education said the pandemic had resulted in a huge shift in the curriculum and the examination system.

Department spokesperson Lehuma Ntuane said that schools will conduct assessments instead of mid-year exams.

Ntuane said that each school in the Province will compile their own respective test papers in order to assess pupils.

“Schools are currently busy with normal teaching and learning in preparation for the school-based assessment. The assessment will start on June 21 and end on July 9. These controlled school-based tests are in line with the amended annual teaching plan. The teaching plan was adapted as a result of Covid-19. Although the opening and closing of schools as a result of Covid-9 affects a school’s individual school-based assessment plans, as well as teaching and learning, schools have flexible assessment plans to accommodate the challenges of the pandemic,” said Ntuane.

The provincial secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), Senzo Mpalala, said there have been mixed feelings about the decision to scrap mid-year exams in favour of tests.

“We believe these decisions were made to protect the learner as well as education staff. It is neither a fair, nor unfair decision to make,” said Mpalala. “Learners also had to give the mid-year examinations a miss last year as schools only reopened in June after the lockdown levels were lifted.

“Schools are currently still on the rotation system and others are lagging behind with the curriculum. Due to the rotation system, teachers also have to repeat the schoolwork to learners. Some learners might not be on par with their peers due to this. Some schools might not have reached or completed a certain portion of the curriculum,” Mpalala pointed out.

He added that the spike in infections in the Province has also been a challenge.

“We have teachers and learners who are currently in quarantine. Some schools had to close due to infections at the schools. The learners who have teachers in quarantine might have to miss out on teaching due to not having a teacher present.”

The provincial secretary of the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysunie (SAOU), Henk Brand, said he believes the assessments are a good alternative to assist pupils to prepare for the year-end exams.

“We believe the schools will conduct proper and conclusive assessments on all learners. One has to bear in mind that the teaching fraternity is currently under tremendous pressure due to the pandemic. Teachers are, however, putting in quality work even during these uncertain times; plus there is still time to catch up with the curriculum,” said Brand.

“The current pandemic is also of such a nature that one cannot plan or foresee the future. The department and schools have been successful thus far in ensuring that they do not unnecessarily put the lives of staff and learners at risk.”