Welcome to this media briefing, on the 2012 exams.
It is that time of the year again, when Grade 12 learners must sit for their end of the year examinations, undoubtedly the greatest milestone in their 12 years of schooling. It is indeed all systems go for the 2012 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations, which start this coming Monday, 22 October, until Wednesday 28 November 2012.
Our Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) have sent us reports confirming their readiness. I am glad to announce that all of them are ready.
We are encouraged that in the 5th year of the administration of the NSC across the country we can continue to reflect on achievements as well as challenges of our system of public examinations.
Despite the teething problems of the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) in the beginning, our findings show that the NSC has continued to improve both in quality and status over the past 5 years.
We have made numerous improvements in 2012 to ensure a solid, credible examination based on a strengthened strategy in the setting, moderation and quality assurance of all question papers. A panel of independent experts are responsible for the setting of the question papers.
Improvements include the following:
· We have increased the number of examiners and moderators.
These examiners and moderators, whose training is ongoing, have received special training on “Assessment of Visual Literacy” - an aspect of language assessment which has been a challenge in previous years;
· We are satisfied that findings from international benchmarking conducted on 15 selected NSC 2010 question papers were shared with examiners and moderators and recommendations were incorporated;
· We have conducted a pre-test writing of question papers on the following subjects: Accounting, Economics, Physical Sciences and Mathematics.
· We have developed a common languages assessment framework to ensure comparability of standards across all language question papers. This common assessment framework was fully implemented for the first time in the setting of the November 2012/March 2013 languages examination question papers;
· We have ensured that there was closer monitoring of the setting and moderation processes to ascertain that panels adhere strictly to the curriculum statement, subject assessment guidelines and examination guidelines; and
· We have improved the editing and translation of question papers. All translations are now made by a panel of examiners, and verified further by DBE editors. In addition, a three-tier editing process was followed where question papers were edited by DBE editors, followed by editors from different PEDs, and then by seasoned appointed part-time editors. The papers were then proofread and signed off by external moderators from UMALUSI and internal moderators from the DBE.
Based on these improvements, we are of the view that our system has stabilized in many respects. For example, over the past two years we have not experienced any question paper “leaks”, nor any serious incidents that could compromise the credibility of the NSC examinations.
This is a great achievement on our part, which proves that the DBE’s sound legislative framework for all examination practices, compliance with legislation, and the collaboration between the DBE and its provincial counterparts in examination administration are indeed working.
The following are important facts and figures, which will be very useful for the media to inform the public , around the enormity of the NSC:
· A total of 527 335 full time learners, and 120 352 part-time candidates have enrolled to write the NSC exams in 2012.
· 264 question papers have been set, moderated, approved by UMALUSI, edited and quality assured by the DBE.
· All non-language question papers are provided in the languages of learning and teaching, that is English and Afrikaans.
· In addition, the Independent Examination Board (IEB) set 69 question papers for all non-official languages.
· We completed the adaptation of question papers for blind, partially sighted and deaf candidates. 59 question papers have been adapted for the blind and 45 papers adapted for deaf candidates.
· Approximately 1 445 question papers were Brailed and provided in Braille fonts specific to each individual candidate’s requirements. Teachers from schools for the blind and deaf were co-opted as special examiners.
· The DBE has published a training manual for invigilators, and provinces have started their training;
· Marking will take place in 118 marking centres across the country. These markers were carefully selected.
It is also important to announce that the DBE has agreed to support learners who were previously registered with the Eksamenraad Vir Christelike Onderwys (ERCO), the independent examining body that was de-registered by UMALUSI. In order to accommodate these learners, a separate paper had to be set for English and Afrikaans Literature, given that these candidates studied different setworks.
These are just some of the many improvements we strive to bring to the NSC year after year.
The security of question papers and scripts before and after examinations cannot be overemphasized. In order to continue our trend of “no paper leaks” we will continue with the safekeeping of question papers in safe-rooms whose locations we cannot disclose.
We will also continue our cooperation with security companies and police to escort sealed question papers on the day in which a particular paper will be written.
Most provinces have installed CCTV cameras, biometric systems of access control and alarm systems at distribution points to avoid any security breaches. It is also important to single out Mpumalanga, which previously had security challenges, that this year, it has a state of the art security system that surpasses all the other provinces.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we are confident that the 2012 NSC examination will proceed as smoothly as it has in the past few years. We cannot foresee any major discrepancies or irregularities. Where these occur, we have in place Provincial Examination Irregularities Committees that are fully functional in all provinces, to ensure full and speedy finalization of investigations into irregularities of any form or size.
I therefore declare the National Examination system of the DBE, comprising all 9 Provincial Education Departments, ready to deliver on a credible and fair examination.
Good luck to the Class of 2012.
I thank you.
Click here for the Report.