Durban – Several challenges including service delivery protest action by community members, premature releasing of exam papers and incorrect questioning have so far hampered the 2022 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams.

That’s according to Dr Mafu Rakometsi, CEO of Umalusi – the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training. The council has been appointed by the Department of Basic Education to oversee the exams. Matric pupils are writing exams until December 7.

Rakometsi said the council has been operating from different provinces and submitted weekly reports.

“We have officials who have been monitoring the exams. In terms of challenges, protest action earlier this month in the North West province saw 500 learners being prevented from accessing the exam centre. Pupils thus arrived late and had to be given time to write their Economics paper 1,” said Rakometsi.

He said 1000 matric pupils at Emalahleni, in Mpumalanga, were prevented from writing their Maths paper 2 exam two weeks ago, which had to be rescheduled due to protests.

“The South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI) released two papers prematurely which are the Physical Science Paper 2 and Life Science Paper 1, which were scheduled to be written on November 14 and November 18 respectively. Umalusi requires assessment bodies to submit question papers to us after the writing of each paper so we can perform post-examination quality assurance process prior to the standardisation of results. SACAI has withdrawn the papers released in error and will substitute them with back-up question papers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rakometsi added that a problematic question in the Maths paper 2 was being investigated.

He said: “A sum was incorrect, and pupils wouldn’t have been able to solve it. It carried seven marks.”

He added that the standard procedure for dealing with such issues involved the marking guidelines or memoranda standardisation meetings during which problematic questions were moderated in consideration of candidates’ answers.

The communications head for the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department, Muzi Mahlambi, said weather conditions during exams was of great concern.

“The April floods demonstrated to us that there is no structure that cannot be destroyed by water, so weather conditions are monitored and reported to the MEC and HOD daily. The only issue to be mentioned is group copying, which is only picked up when marking takes place,” said Mahlambi.

Dr Jaco Deacon, CEO of the Federation of Associations of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas), said despite load shedding disruptions the administration seemed to be going well.

“We haven’t received any serious complaints from any of our member schools. We have regular provincial and national meetings to follow the progress,” said Deacon.

Constanze van der Walt, national operational manager for Fedsas, said she has been monitoring the exams, and learners displayed positive attitudes despite being anxious.

The Department of Basic Education said a total of 52 811 markers had been appointed throughout the country. KZN has 38 marking centres ready for marking throughout December.

Nomarashiya Caluza, provincial secretary for the South African Democratic Teachers Union, said members had visited marking centres to ensure everything was above board.

“The marking centres are ready, and we were part of an in loco inspection to ensure that when marking starts there are no challenges except those that will emanate from marking itself,” she said.

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