Service delivery protests are becoming a big threat to grade 12 learners who are writing their final examinations. The rolling blackouts and weather conditions have also been attributed as challenges facing the candidates.
The Education Department briefed the media in Pretoria on Sunday on the progress of the National Senior Certificate exams which began on the 25th of October. 923 000 full-time and part-time candidates are sitting for the National Senior Certificate this year.
According to the Education Department, service delivery protests are becoming a deterrent to matrics. In Mngungundlovu in KwaZulu-Natal, police had to be called to escort education officials to the examination centres due to a service delivery protest. While in Etwatwa on the East Rand, some learners could not sit for their exams last Monday.
Service delivery protests
The department’s Director General, Matanzima Mweli explains: “On Monday when exams were written by almost all candidates 53 learners in Gauteng in the Etwatwa area could not write exams simply because of service delivery protests. They were in the area where there were shooting incidents and those learners missed an opportunity to write exams on Monday. ”
Matanzima appeals to communities to not use learners as pawns.
“We want to make an appeal that learners shouldn’t be prevented from writing exams for any reason whatsoever. An appeal to broader civil society, different formations in our society SANCO in particular as the leading information when it comes to broader civil society.”
A total of 199 centres have been affected by the rolling blackouts since the start of the exams, affecting almost 4000 learners. But despite this, the Education Department’s Dr. Rufus Poliah says it seems most could continue with their papers except for a handful who will sit for a rewrite.
“In total, the number of learners that were impacted in some way by load shedding was 3956 but as we mentioned last week, only 14 learners are coming from Computer Applications Technology that has to rewrite the paper. And that was because of load shedding when they switched to a generator resulted in the power surge and that damaged the computers that they were using.”
The inclement weather has also not made things easy for learners.
Poliah further adds that parents, communities, and all schools are expected to make alternative arrangements for learners to stay close to the schools where they are writing exams so that when they are not locked out because of overnight rain or flooding. The rains experienced late are irregular and unprecedented.”
The department has also condemned the turning back of a pregnant learner in the Western Cape as well as several reported cases where learners weren’t allowed to write because they allegedly owed school fees. The department maintains the exams are running smoothly despite the challenges.
Video: Basic Education Department updates on Matric Exams Progress