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[LISTEN] Class of 2021: Matriculating During a Pandemic

Oct 11, 2021

Umm Muhammed Umar

The matric Class of 2021 are to begin their final examinations in just over two weeks. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has assured the nation that all is in place to ensure smooth exams. She also announced that the 2021 matric exam results would be released on January 20. The National Professional Teacher’s Organization’s Executive Director Basil Manuel spoke to Radio Islam.

Manuel said that the Class of 2021 had had a far more difficult year as compared to the Class of 2020. He said this was because the Class of 2021 had had only partial attendance at school in 2020, and as a result had entered 2021 already with deficits. 2020’s matriculants had had a full school year in 2019, and so 2020 was their only stumbling block. Manuel said, “So now they’ve had to play catch up first of all, with a bit of Grade 11 work, the work that are essentially the building blocks.” He said that the volume of work they have had to cover in order to complete the syllabus has been immense, they’ve had to do much, much more to complete the syllabus, and that credit had to be given to both the teachers and parents who have had to make enormous sacrifices, with extra classes having had to be set up, teachers teaching after school and during weekends, and even during the holidays.

When asked about the Woza Matrics campaign mentioned by the minister, Manuel said that while there has been learner support from the Department, the most fundamental learner support has come from individual schools and individual teachers. He said that big programs are done by provinces, and by the DBE are good, but that if the school was not making a special effort, the learners would not even be encouraged to attend such national, provincial, outreach programs. He emphasized that the school and the teachers were key. He said that Naptosa has been encouraging teachers to ensure that they become the first to attend to the problems that children may have, after which the other programs were additional support.

Teachers, and the vast majority of schools will continue to be giving unconditional support to ensure that matriculants were as ready as possible for their final exams. However, Manuel says that it must be borne in mind that there are children that battle a little more than others, seeing that our current system an academic one, and not every child is academically inclined. He said, “and so there’s much more being done, even for that child at this late stage, to ensure that, until the day before they start writing, they are going to get support.” He added that parents had to be intrinsically involved, and that despite fear of burnout occurring, now was not the time to be celebrating. Moreover, with the Covid pandemic still rampant, learners and parents had to ensure that they avoided the kind of gatherings that had caused a surge in infections in both the Cape and in KZN, just before the matric exams of 2020.

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