Resilience of teachers and learners is commendable – Angie Motshekga

Minister says 2020 academic year will go down as the most challenging, complex and unpredictable

Minister Angie Motshekga on progress of the combined matric examination

18 November 2020

Good afternoon!

The Council of Education Ministers held an urgent meeting this morning. We did not expect to meet as CEM under these circumstances, kodwakesilaphangoku!

We received a report on the progress of the Combined Matric Examinations.

You will recall that the Matric Examination started later than usual as we sought to manage the impact of COVID-19 on teaching and learning.

We worked very hard to reopen schools under very difficult circumstances and had to move swiftly to provide extra support particularly to our Grade 12 learners while also trying to stabilise a system that had lost a lot of time.

The resilience of both our teachers and learners is really commendable. To us the fact that we were even able to start the Matric exams, a combined one with more than 1 million people writing, was a major achievement. 

This examination is the largest yet with One Million, Fifty Eight Thousand Six Hundred and Ninety Nine (1, 058 699).

The exam started in earnest on 5 November and will end on 15 December 2020.

The exam is taking in 8 200 exam centres in all provinces with 80,000 invigilators. Two hundred and sixteen question papers are being written with more than 10 million scripts printed.

The sector appointed 45 000 markers in 180 marking centres. 

Today is Day 11 of the 30 day examination and up to now 83 papers out of 216 have been written. Logistically all is well except for protests and inclement weather in parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

Marking commences on 4th of January 2021 with the results being released on 22 February 2021. For the first time schools will reopen before the matric results are released.

We appreciate the sacrifice and the hard work displayed by officials in all levels of the system from DBE, PEDs, Districts, circuits and indeed schools.

The 2020 academic year will go down as the most challenging, complex and unpredictable. It has required innovation, courage, collaboration, sacrifice and selflessness. I admire the mental strength of our learners in particular and the dedication of our teachers and officials.

COVID-19 was initially our challenge with cases continuing to affect the examination but the collaboration with the Department of Health has helped to allow those infected to write the examination. Private invigilators have been appointed to provide where there challenges. COVID-19 cases remain a concern but our revised safety protocols are helping to manage the impact. The exam system is now running with minimum challenges in that regard, we are pleased with the progressed made thus. It seems initial fears and anxiety have now been allayed, we however remain vigilant.

We are however very disappointed that a question paper has been leaked and some learners appear to have had access to it before it was written.

Before I conclude let me say that the penalty for offences related to examinations are very serious. As a learner you can be banned for up to 3 years from writing the NSC exam and if you are an employee in the system you could be jailed. 

The DBE officials as lead by the Director-General, MathanzimaMweli, will provide details here together with proposed actions arising from the CEM meeting this morning.

CEM deliberated on the report presented today and agreed on steps that must be taken urgently for the short and long term.

I now hand over to the Director-General.

Thank you.

Issued by Department of Basic Education, 18 November 2020