Free State matric learners optimistic about exams despite COVID-19 challenges

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The Free State Class of 2020 remains optimistic, despite a turbulent year following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The province had the highest pass rate of 88.4 % in 2019.

The Education Department says officials were trained to conduct examinations under COVID-19 regulations.

About 49 000 matriculants, including part-time learners, are sitting for exams in the province: 

Grade 12 learners sat for English Paper One on Thursday.

The 2020 academic year was one of the most difficult ones due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Learners and educators were at home for months as the government tried to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Schools that could afford it used online learning. When schools did re-open, some had to close temporarily as teachers and learners tested positive for the virus. It was also difficult to conduct classes as schools had to adapt to the new rules, such as social distancing.

Anxiety as exams begin

The situation also compounded stress levels amongst learners and educators. Some matriculants at Kagisho Comprehensive Secondary School in Bloemfontein are anxious about their final exams. However, they are positive that despite the challenges, they will do well.

“The preparation has been very intense, but I feel like the learners of Kagisho are well prepared. The teachers have done their utmost level best to make sure that they are well prepared for this examination,” says one of the teachers.

One of the learners says, “The year was very bad for us but then we think that we are going achieve it because we have been getting extra classes.”

Exam centres

More than 340 examination centres have been audited to comply with all the COVID-19 protocols. The department is confident about plans in place for learners to continue writing exams even if they contract the virus.

Education MEC, Tate Makgoe says the target for the province remains a 90% pass rate.

“We believe in the slogan: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ We believe that as a province of the Free State we have faced difficulties before. I know that COVID-19 is a particular one but we tried to support these learners even from Grade 11. So many of them were supported a lot in Grade 11 and we used other mediums to support them.”

The provincial results are expected to be released in February next year.