For the matric class of 2020, the long wait is almost over as Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to announce their results Monday afternoon. 

616 000 full-time candidates sat for exams but the total number of candidates is over 1 million as the department combined the June and November examinations.

Last year’s matric class faced many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Department Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says it is all systems go for the announcement in Pretoria.

“The Minister of Basic Education will unveil the performance of the Class of 2020 on Monday 22 February. The Minister will talk about the challenges that would have been faced by the sector but will also talk about the interventions the department has put in place and the impact it has been on the sector in general and in matric. This will happen at 4 pm.”

Challenging year

The South African Democratic Teacher’s Union (Sadtu) says 2020 was the most challenging year for matriculants in history.

Sadtu Secretary-general Mugwena Maluleke says some matric learners almost dropped out because of fear of contracting the coronavirus. He says teachers had a hard time convincing parents to allow their children to return to school.

Maluleke says he is hopeful about the results.

“Some of the Grade 12 learners had to be followed up from home for almost a month not wanting to come back because their parents were afraid they will be infected with the virus. Many of the teachers who were there to give education during weekends and camps were not able to have 100% attendance to camps and weekend studies in order for them to complete the curriculum.”

Tougher year 

Education expert Mary Metcalf says while the focus is on the 2020 Matric results, it is important to also be aware that the Class of 2021 might have an even tougher year.

Metcalf says it would be interesting to study the quality of the results as there were numerous challenges.

She also says the current matric class did not finish the Grade 11 curriculum and will now have to deal with those gaps.

VIDEO: Mixed emotions from learners ahead of 2020 matric results release:

Comorbidities

As SABC’s Kim Daniels reports from Port Elizabeth, living with comorbidities during this pandemic is not an easy task, especially for 18-year old Naomi De Booi, who went through her matric year mostly in isolation.

The Riebeek College learner from Uitenhage had managed her condition for a long time but was now tested to its limits.

An 18-year-old Uitenhage pupil speaks about her daunting matric year:

A year that was supposed to be about friends, school and celebration had been lonely, safe and careful. Naomi constantly sanitised and wore a hazmat suit to protect her compromised immune system against the potentially lethal virus. But still, it wasn’t enough and the Coronavirus nearly claimed her life.

Something that upset Naomi very much.  “I had been complaining of stomach-ache and nausea as well as headaches that just wouldn’t go away. so it was Tuesday that my dad said okay now I must go to the doctor and when I got to the doctor my sugar wasn’t that high but I did have ketones. so he said I have to be admitted to the hospital and I literally cried and pleaded with my dad because I was writing the next day but he said there isn’t there is no way this is your life so the only way that I could get treated was by the hospital.”

While in hospital, Naomi, was adamant to complete her exams. She knew if she missed these exams, she’d only be able to write it in June of this year. But with the help of her school, the department of education and the hospital staff, Naomi wrote her final two papers, English and Afrikaans, in the Critical Care Unit.

Her principal, Kieran Steer made it happen.  “I actually heard about Naomi being in hospital the night before. So I called her mum and I could hear from mum that she was really desperate for her daughter to write and Naomi herself was desperate but at that point in time she wasn’t well and also and I said to her if we could get permission from the doctors for it to write am I would make a plan. the next day I phoned the department. they were a little bit uneasy at first but I am they did come around well and supported. they that actually phoned the head office in Bisho who can get permission for us to go ahead. We had a plan of what we would do in terms of following the protocol.”

-Additional reporting by Kim Daniels