With just 20 days to go before the start of the matric exams, the Eastern Cape Department of Education is ready to deliver credible examinations in the province and is hoping to improve on last year’s pass rate.
Provincial education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said the department was confident it would see an improvement in its pass rate, which dropped to a dismal 56.8% last year.
“We have taken steps by fasttracking the appointment of teachers like no other year before and have distributed supplementary materials to support teaching and learning to all schools, even those that performed above 60%, as long as they are between quintile 1 and 3,” he said.
Education officials had also visited under-performing schools to do an assessment and ensure they were functional.
“There were schools that were revolting, but we worked out a roadmap to ensure they are ready,” Mtima said.
“We believe with these efforts we will see a reasonable increase.
“In previous years, we [aimed] for a 70% pass rate, and although we may not reach that figure this year it is still one of our goals.”
The number of full-time pupils who are registered to write the exams this year increased from 91 810 to 94 928.
The department will use 18 marking centres in the province.
Mtima said marking would start on November 28 and November 30 and would be finalised on December 13 and 15.
The selection of markers was already taking place, with verification processes at school and district level.
All staff working with the national question papers had signed a confidentiality agreement, which barred them from disclosing any information in the papers.
“Staff handling question papers must also disclose if they have children or relatives writing the national examinations.”
Mtima said the printing and packing of question papers was done in a secure environment, with only the workers and provincial officials allowed access to the area.
“A security guard is posted at the access gates to monitor and control access,” he said.
“Editors check and proofread a copy of the question paper to be printed against the DBE hard copy, and acknowledge correctness by signing before reproduction is authorised,” Mtima said.
“Question papers that are spoilt are shredded immediately and the shredded material is stored under secure conditions.”