Northern Cape scraps matric prelims

In an unprecedented move, the Northern Cape education department has scrapped matric prelim exams for the class of 2010.

This emerged when the Mail & Guardian asked the nine provincial education departments this week when prelims would start, following Monday’s suspension of the three-week teachers’ strike.

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) in KwaZulu-Natal urged the province on Tuesday to scrap its prelims. Pupils would be better off if they had more time to prepare for finals without the distraction of prelims, provincial secretary Mbuyiseni Mathonsi told Sapa.

Sydney Stander, the spokesperson for the Northern Cape education department, said: “We were meant to start prelims on Monday, but with the strike only suspended, we decided to call them off.” The province’s “recovery strategy” would make up for disruption to teaching during the strike and the lack of prelims, Stander said.

The plan includes a “spring school” in the coming school holidays, offering optional classes and a 10-day spring camp “for 3 000 pupils from schools who did not perform well in previous exams”, he said. Neither includes practice exams.

The North West and Free State said their prelims would start on September 9, and KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape said they would start on September 13. Prelims in the Western Cape were already taking place, the province’s department said.

Gauteng is still to confirm a starting date. It said that when teaching resumed, pupils would hold catch-up classes in the mornings and write prelims in the afternoons. It did not explain whether the classes and exams would be related.

Said Martin Prew, the director at the Centre for Education Policy Development: “The most fragile schools will be the worst affected.”

Neither Prew nor other educationists consulted could recall any province scrapping prelims since 1994.

Meanwhile, the Sowetan reported on Thursday that Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was expected to cancel the September holidays.

 
Ryan Hoffmann
David Macfarlane

David Macfarlane

David Macfarlane is currently the Mail & Guardian's education editor. He obtained an honours degree in English literature, a fairly unpopular choice among those who'd advised him to study something that would give him a real career and a pension plan. David joined the M&G in the late 1990s. There, the publication's youth – which was nearly everyone except him – also tried to further his education. Since April 2010, he's participated in the largest expansion of education coverage the M&G Media has ever undertaken. He says he's "soon" going on "real annual leave", which will entail "switching off this smart phone the M&G youth told me I needed".  
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