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Matric pupils must rise above challenges as they write final exams, says KZN Premier Zikalala

Premier Sihle Zikalala wishes a matric pupil good luck yesterday, Matriculants from Umlazi Commercial High School were in high spirits as they sat for their isiZulu and Geography exams yesterday. Picture: Tumi Pakkies African News Agency (ANA)

Premier Sihle Zikalala wishes a matric pupil good luck yesterday, Matriculants from Umlazi Commercial High School were in high spirits as they sat for their isiZulu and Geography exams yesterday. Picture: Tumi Pakkies African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 12, 2021

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DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Sihle Zikalala says he is confident that the 2021 matric class will perform well in their finals exams despite the challenges they are facing.

This year’s matric examination has the largest number of candidates in the province in the past six years, with more than 201 000 full-time and part-time candidates sitting for the exams.

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Zikalala was joined by the provincial MEC for Education Kwazi Mshengu yesterday when he visited Umlazi Commercial High School to monitor the progress of the National Senior Certificate examinations in the Umlazi District.

The visit follows concerns of possible disruptions of examinations since the implementation of load shedding by Eskom. Another concern was that community members who were unhappy with the recent election outcomes might want to disrupt examinations, namely in Pietermaritzburg and uMkhanyakude.

“So far we have received positive news of exam outcomes. It is disturbing when communities use matric examinations to display their frustrations with local government elections,” said Zikalala.

Zikalala said despite the current Grade 12 pupils having experienced difficulties, he was confident that they would still do well.

Speaking on load shedding, Mshengu said generators had been provided for some of the 1 700 exam centres for subjects such as computer studies.

“We must commend teachers that have been able to continue despite the disruptions.”

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Regarding the community issues, Mshengu said: “There are platforms to address being disgruntled as members of the community without affecting the future of matric pupils.”

Principal of Umlazi Commercial High School, Nkanyiso Dlamini, said the biggest challenge had been the curriculum gap between Grade 11 in 2020 and the matric year 2021, and teachers had the challenge of closing the gap between the two grades.

“It was a lot of work for our learners in a very short space of time. The revision classes which normally take place after 6pm have also been disrupted by the power outages, and it was not safe for learners and the teachers to be at the school. The new challenge is still having to squeeze a lot of work into a short space of time,” said Dlamini.

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Bhekisisile Ngobese, deputy principal and invigilator at Umlazi Commercial, said they had been disappointed that during elections there were no power outages, but it was allowed to continue during the exams.

“It gives us a bad impression that some do not care about such a delicate and critical time for the learners and their future.”

The national Department of Basic Education met with Eskom yesterday to discuss load shedding and exams, and how load shedding schedules could be set with exam preparation in mind.

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Elijah Mhlanga, spokesperson for the Basic Education department, said the meeting dealt with a series of proposals as the department was concerned that power cuts had affected matriculants, leading up to their exams. “We are not at liberty to discuss the proposals right now. We will share the details of the engagement after the meeting.”

Umlazi Commercial High School matriculants gather at their school assemby to listen to the Premier and the MEC for Education's address ahead of their exams yesterday. Picture: Tumi Pakkies African News Agency (ANA)

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