Matric exam changes proposed

A MAJOR shift in the final examinations process across the country has been proposed and could, if implemented, result in the end of the Senior Certificate (SC).

The Department of Basic Education has briefed the portfolio committee on the possible merger of the Grade 12 national examinations.

This could mean a merger between the National Senior Certificate (NSC) supplementary exams and the June Senior Certificate.

The department said the NSC supplementary exams were considered a second sitting of the November 2016 NSC examinations. The merging of the performance in the November 2016 and February 2017 exams provides a complete picture of the overall performance of the Class of 2016. The supplementary examinations allow candidates who did not meet the NSC requirements by one to three subjects during the November examinations a second chance at obtaining their NSC qualification.

The department, however, remained concerned at the low participation rate in supplementary exams.

“More than 123 000 candidates enrolled for the February 2017 examinations but only 76 000 actually wrote. The department has been monitoring the patterns for several years and despite several attempts to improve the participation rate no change has taken place. As a result the department intends merging the February supplementary examinations with the June national examinations.”

Head of the National Examinations and assessment department Dr Rufus Poliah said no candidates would be disadvantaged as a result of the proposed changes.

He said the current examinations were not serving their intended purpose.

“Learners that write the supplementary exams are unable to access admission to higher education institutions in the year they write these examinations.”

Poliah said there was a large percentage of no-shows followed by poor performance in the supplementary examinations.

“We therefore want to reduce the Grade 12 national examination opportunities from three to two.”

There are currently two types of public examinations offered to FET candidates occurring at three points: November – National Senior Certificate (NSC), March – (NSC – supplementary) and in June – Senior Certificate (SC).

Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said a few positive gains from the 2016 NSC supplementary examinations had shown an improvement in the performance of candidates, reflecting an increase from 442 672 to 456 437 – a difference of 13 765 candidates achieving their NSC and 9 561 candidates obtaining their Higher Certificates. He said 2 619 additional candidates obtained admission to diploma studies with 1 564 more candidates obtaining admission to bachelor’s studies.

“The SC is an adult qualification while the NSC is a school qualification and both utilized the same curriculum but had different rules of combination.”

He said the supplementary examination would be merged with the June examination.

“Three examination opportunities [will be] reduced to two.”

NSC and SC candidates would retain their qualification status and would be able to write either the November or June examination.

Candidates will be registered on separate systems for the NSC and SC.

Both groups of candidates will write the same examination but will be resulted based on their respective qualifications.

He said the proposed end for the discontinuations of the senior certificate was in 2020.

“The NSC will remain the only exit level qualification.”

“Should the policy be approved by basic education Minister Angie Motshekga, the shift will be rolled out in phases: first by merging the senior certificate with matric supplementary exams currently taking place in March.

The merger of the supplementary exams with the senior certificate is expected to take place in June 2019.

Asked if both the senior certificate and the supplementary exams would be phased out of the curriculum, he said, “Yes, supplementary exam papers will be NSC papers and eventually the Senior Certificate will be phased out.”

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