SA teacher unions welcome changes to matric final exams timetable
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DURBAN - TEACHER unions have welcomed the amendment to the matric final examination timetable, which allows for the exams to commence before the November 1 local government elections.
The initial timetable released by the Department of Basic Education had the first paper, English, scheduled on the same day as the polls.
However this has been changed and the class of 2021 will write their first paper on October 27.
The unions were relieved about the new date as this would allow eligible pupils and teachers to vote freely.
The department announced the amendment yesterday after a decision was made during a meeting with the Council of Education Ministers (CEM). The department said the CEM meeting took place after consultations with the key stakeholders in the sector.
“Learners eligible to vote would now be able to cast their ballots. In May 2021, CEM approved the 2021 NSC examination timetable. The Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, on Wednesday last week announced that the local government elections would take place on November 1 2021,” they said. The department said the consultation was to deliberate on what the most appropriate option would be regarding a change to the timetable.
“There are 207 question papers to be written over 25 days (five weeks) and there are no vacant sessions in the current 25-day timetable hence the rescheduling needed to be confined to either: prior the commencement date; or post the conclusion date. The best interest of the learner was a key consideration in addition to ensuring that a minimum change to the current timetable was made to avoid confusion.”
The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) said the amendment came as a relief. The union commended the government for its swift change to the timetable.
“We did not believe the initial timetable as it caused confusion. We are happy that the timetable was amended well in time as this will avoid last-minute changes,” said Naptosa’s Thirona Moodley.
The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) said while pupils had time to prepare for their exams, they were still concerned about those who did not have teachers during the course of the year.
“The department has failed to address the issue of the shortage of teachers. Some teachers were in and out of schools because of Covid-19, while some died and substitute teachers were not provided for those cases,” said Natu’s Sibusiso Malinga.
The SA Democratic Teachers Union echoed these sentiments, saying it was not an issue to overlook.
“While the timetable allows enough time for the learners to prepare, there are learners who are at a disadvantage. The department knows of the schools that had shortages of teachers and did not put a programme in place to help these learners,” said Nomarashiya Caluza.
Matakanye Matakanya, general secretary of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, said the organisation welcomed the amendment.
“This has been a difficult year and has taken a toll on everyone including students. Preparations are not only about studying but mental health,” he said. Matakanya said parents should ensure the well-being of their children for the exams.