Secondary school learners in the province were left at a loss when, upon arriving at their schools on Tuesday morning, they were told that they would not be writing the exams as scheduled for the day.
Grade 11 learners ready to write English first additional language, as per the timetable of the Department of Education were summarily told that they will write it on Friday, 6 November. The rest of the exam papers set to be written in the morning were rescheduled for the afternoon. The subjects scheduled for Wednesday (yesterday) and Thursday (today) for both Grade 10 and 11 were also postponed.
Naledzani Rasila, Spokesperson of the department said the department needed to change the timetable and that all districts were informed of the changes. Asked when they were informed, he said after 17:00 on Monday. He admitted some schools may have received the communication late and that it may have inconvenienced learners and parents. Initially he tendered as reason for the changes the “load” and that some learners were to have written two languages on the day. When Polokwane Observer commented that many learners throughout times have written two exam papers on one day some or other time, he said the department on Mondays analyse the process and anything detected to possibly cause a problem or pose a challenge is immediately dealt with.
In response to rumours earlier that schools not receiving norms and standards money in time would lack funding to print the exam papers Rasila said all papers were printed by the exam section at the departmental head office and distributed to schools via the circuit offices.
This was however refuted by some schools which said they received only one copy of the exam paper and had to make copies themselves. Polokwane Observer phoned a number of schools in urban and rural areas who talked on condition of anonymity. The first deep rural school phoned said they were writing the English additional language exams and had not heard about a change in exam timetables. Some schools said they had to send learners home after getting the instruction to write the subject on Friday, while others said learners just had to hang around at school waiting for their parents to fetch them or to write another subject the afternoon. One school said the learners could not be inconvenienced while they had prepared to write examinations, thus back-up exam papers were supplied and the learners wrote their exams as scheduled, also on Wednesday and Thursday. “It’s a circus” a representative of one of the schools said. Another principal said he did not know how rural non-fee schools could make copies of all the exam papers. Another school said they have long since asked permission to schedule their own timetables and was not inconvenienced at all by any changes. Some schools in the city were, according to information, asked to copy thousands of exam papers for the department, but could not oblige due to a lack of budget.
Phuti Seloba, Provincial Spokesperson said now was the time to take hands and work with the Department of Education. “It is not time to point fingers.” he said, calling for cooperation. He said some schools dragged their feet as they already knew over the weekend that they should have made copies. He said the situation was “depressing”.
“Revised exam rosters and further instructions have been sent to the districts to send to the circuits for sending it to schools,” Rasila said yesterday (Wednesday) and added that it will not happen again.
Story: NELIE ERASMUS