Shortage in Afrikaans markers raises concerns for matric readiness



Umalusi — the quality assurance in education and training body — has raised concerns that some provinces have a shortage of Afrikaans markers.

This was revealed by Mafu Rakometsi, Umalusi’s chief executive, on Thursday at a press briefing in Milpark, Johannesburg where the body announced that it had approved the writing of the 2019 matric examinations.

Rakometsi said the shortage of markers related to subjects such as maths, geography, history and business studies, which some learners write in Afrikaans. He added that the problem is not with the markers that have to mark Afrikaans language.

“The heads of departments have been alerted and they have been told about the problems in their provinces, and it is for them to see how they sort it out. And we will be monitoring how they have sorted the problem out,” he said.

Rakometsi said there are a number of approaches that the provinces could look at to address the problems, including getting help from sister provinces to share their Afrikaans markers or make calls for teachers who can mark in Afrikaans to apply as markers.

He said however that there is nothing Umalusi can do about the problem as it does not prescribe to the provincial departments of education but only offers oversight.

Rakometsi said approval has been given to the different bodies that administer the final examination, including the department of basic education (DBE) and the Independent Examinations Board, to go ahead with the exams.

“To this end, the council is generally satisfied that all assessment bodies are ready to undertake this massive task,” Rakometsi added.

The first exam paper is scheduled to be written on October 28 and the last on November 28. There are 620 871 full-time candidates and 169 534 part-time.

In her presentation Mary-Louise Madalane, Umalusi’s senior manager for quality assurance assessment, revealed that there has been a drop in the number of full-time learners that are going to write the exams this year in comparison to last year. Last year, there were 629 141 learners.

Only four provinces — KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Limpopo and Eastern Cape — had registered the highest number of learners to write the matric exams.

Madalane also said audits conducted by Umalusi found that there are high levels of vacant posts in critical areas within the examination directorate, namely in the Limpopo, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Eastern Cape provinces.

She said some of these provinces were dealing with the issue by making staff work overtime or increasing their workload.

“In Limpopo the filling of vacancies may not be addressed in the short to medium term due to directive issued by treasury indicating that the appointment of school based educators be prioritised,” she said.

Mathanzima Mweli, DBE’s deputy director-general, also appeared before Parliament’s portfolio committee on basic education on Thursday morning to brief it about the state of readiness for the matric final examinations.

Mweli told the committee that DBE as well as provincial education departments would ensure the class of 2019 is supported in all areas that warrant attention.

Mweli said the department was confident that the examination systems would be administered successfully.

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Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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