Matric Marking Faces New Covid Rules

The marking of 14 million Matric exam papers starts on Monday but the process has been complicated by the move to level 3 of lockdown so the Education Department has issued an urgent release with details on the rules that the 45 000 exam markers must follow. They have only 18 days to mark all of the Matric exam papers.

The first major task of the new year for the education sector is the marking of the 14 million Matric exam scripts that were written in November and December last year. The national Minister of Basic Education has issued an urgent notice outlining the health and safety measures that Matric exam marking centres must adhere to when they start their work on Monday the 4th of January.

It is a mammoth task. This group of Matric learners is the largest ever to write the final exams with 1 058 699 candidates registered to write the exams. There would normally be about 800 000 learners writing Matric exams at one time.  The number of marking centres has increased to 181 and 45 000 people are employed to actually mark the papers. 

This all has to happen over an 18 day period.  The national Minister is expected to announce the national pass rate on the evening of the 22nd February and individual candidates will get their marks the following day from their schools or online. The whole process will be happening about 8 weeks later than normal because of the delays in the teaching year of 2020 caused by the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Education Department have stressed that they are concerned about the safety of everyone involved in the marking process and will ensure that all marking centres  are safe spaces for the markers to carry out their work. 

"The cardinal message from the speech of the President is strict adherence to the basic health and safety protocols. In the marking centres we have increase the number of monitors and we will visit all the centres to monitor compliance. We have made health and safety a priority for all staff in marking centres," said Mathanzima Mweli, the Director-General of the Department of Basic Education. They will also heighten their security protocols at the marking centres.

The writing of the Matric exams was also controversial with three papers know to have been leaked so that candidates had access to them before they were written. The Department had decided that two of the papers would need to be rewritten but a successful court challenge determined that this would not happen. Now all eyes will be on the accreditation bureau Umalusi to see if they certify the exams as delivering a credible outcome.

The education department is confident that the school year will commence on the 27th January despite the recent ratcheting-up of lockdown regulations.  This despite the fact that they also have the task of replacing at least 1600 teachers who died of Covid-19 last year. 

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