An assessment of how COVID-19 infections will affect the marking of matric exam papers currently underway in different provinces as the education department, teacher unions, and Umalusi conclude a nationwide inspection of marking venues.
The Department has warned that a significant number of teachers have been infected but the impact on marking is still unclear.
They face the additional pressure of ensuring the quality of the exam isn’t jeopardized by the leaking of Maths and Science exam papers.
Teachers unions say they need to make sure markers aren’t carrying the coronavirus, and don’t catch it while they’re busy.
Naptosa president Basil Manuel said, “we have fewer people per marking room, now I’m talking about the center being split into many rooms, where we’ve limited the number to 15 to 20 at a maximum. These all add to the safety factor. And because orientation will also be different, we can no longer cluster 300 people together to go through a memorandum, we’ve got to do it in smaller groups, and it takes a bit longer. So these are the nuances that come with the times that we are in.”
He says a COVID-19 outbreak at marking centres poses a serious threat.
“Besides bringing in the new people that are on the waiting list of markers, if it’s late in the day, that further delays marking. We could see marking could not be completed within the allocated 18 days. Although we are pretty confident that enough time has been built into that. But should it not happen, given that there are so many unknowns, we may have a delay by a day or two. That has a knock-on effect, even with the standardization by Umalusi and even with the ministerial announcement of the outcome of the results,” he said.
One education analyst says while health protocols are welcomed at marking centres, the quality of the results must be preserved.
Professor Mary Metcalfe from the University of Johannesburg said, “it’s critical for the class of 2020 that their results have the same standard as any other year. So the internal process of marking and moderating marking and checking will be as rigorous this year as they are in any year.”
She said teachers should be prioritized for the vaccine.
The education department and unions say they should have a clearer understanding of the exact impact of COVID-19 on marking, by the end of the week.
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