The integrity of the matric certificate over the long term carries more weight than the short-term disruption of rewriting two exam papers. The Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) has great compassion with the thousands of learners who prepared for and took part in the exams in an honest manner and who have to repeat this entire process now.
“However, with the disruptions of Covid-19 already casting a long shadow over the 2020 school year, matrics can simply not afford any doubt over the integrity of the matric certificate. Matric results play an important role in a learner’s future. We cannot afford a perception that the 2020 results should be taken with a grain of salt. Rewriting these two papers is crucial for these learners’ future,” says Dr Jaco Deacon, Deputy CEO of FEDSAS.
FEDSAS formed part of a series of meetings with the Minister and the Director-General of Basic Education on the options for consideration regarding the leaks. “It is clear that there is no other way to protect the integrity of the National Senior Certificate. Especially the concern of the quality assurance board Umalusi was crucial in this decision.” The exams authority Umalusi is responsible for declaring exam results credible following the exams. “The class of 2020 has already faced so many challenges. The thousands of honest learners do not deserve this. However, at the same time the class does not deserve any doubt cast over the credibility of their results,” says Deacon.
FEDSAS is calling on the school community to support these learners with time and access to a quiet environment conducive to studying and to provide learners with material that might already have been destroyed or is no longer easily accessible. “Above everything else, it is our responsibility to support them emotionally, to encourage them and to help them understand why it is so important that these papers be rewritten. Especially after a year like this everyone is looking forward to some peace and quiet and it might be difficult now to consider the bigger picture. Parents, guardians, teachers and the broader school community have to help these learners to make the best possible use of this second opportunity.” Learners who are already in other provinces during the last week of the exams have to contact their schools and department urgently to request that they write in other exam venues. FEDSAS has requested the Minister and Department to launch a comprehensive media campaign to communicate directly with parents and learners.
FEDSAS does not condone any calls that learners should boycott the rewrite. “It is simply irresponsible and selfish and points to a disregard of these learners’ rights. It gambles with their future for political gain.”
Deacon says FEDSAS acknowledges everyone’s right to test the fairness of the decisions in court. “We will keep an eye on this process but learners should continue preparing for the exams. From the start, FEDSAS has called for a thorough investigation and for the guilty parties to be handed the harshest possible sentence.”
Regarding the decision to rewrite these exams, FEDSAS is supporting the Department of Basic Education. “There is no other option, how difficult it might seem – the integrity of the exam is crucial.”