The Department of Basic Education says security around matric exam question papers have been tightened, in a bid to also avoid leaks.
Paddy Padayachee, the department’s Deputy Director General responsible for Planning, Assessment and Information, briefed the Portfolio Committee on Planning, Assessment and Information in Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday.
He said staff involved in the printing of question papers have been vetted and have signed non-disclosure agreements to maintain secrecy.
While most provincial departments used their in-house printing facilities to print question papers, the transporting of question papers will take place under police or private security escort.
A total of 147 examination question papers for the 2019 November examination have been set and externally moderated by Umalusi.
“Basically, as the national department and the provincial departments, our role is to ensure that the exams are credible so that when Umalusi quality assures it, we are able to indicate that they have given approval and we find that the currency of the certificate is intact and that when it is presented by our learners at any institution – whether locally, nationally or internationally – it basically retains its identity as a valid certificate,” said Padayachee.
The department, in conjunction with provincial departments, has conducted audits of all examination papers storage points, examination centres, marker appointments and district exam systems.
The final state of readiness visits to all provincial departments were also conducted throughout last month.
Basic Education Director-General Mathanzima Mweli said the department has intensified its monitoring and support programmes in a bid to ensure that the system is ready for the exams.
“As part of ongoing monitoring and support for learners, teachers and officials, the department, including the Minister and Deputy Minister, visited vacation, winter and spring schools,” he said.
Mweli visited 112 winter schools whilst the department’s subject specialists monitored 135 winter schools across nine provinces.
Vacation schools target progressed learners, learners at risk, moderate and high achievers, learners from under-performing schools, serial under-performing schools, schools with new Grade 12 teachers and first time new Grade 12 schools.
Academic learner support in South African schools is not a new phenomenon, it comprises a broad collection of educational strategies, including extra tutoring sessions, supplementary material, vacation classes, after-school programmes, teacher training, volunteer teachers such as university students, as well as alternative (differentiated) ways of grouping, and instructing learners.
Previous question papers and additional learning resources were provided to learners for revision and extra classes, which were offered in the afternoons, Saturdays and/or during winter holidays.
Learners have access to the prescribed literature after hours by using the schools’ laptops and computers.
He also said the department has finalised the moderation of the 2019 preparatory exams in 10 key subjects.