In preparation for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examinations, Basic Education Minister, Mrs Angie Motshekga, hosted the District Directors’ Forum to assess the state of system readiness and the level of provincial intervention required in support of schools. The virtual Forum, which was attended by 120 Education District representatives from across all nine provinces, took place on 07 October 2021. For the past years, the Forum has been viewed as a platform where strategic educational matters are discussed for urgent intervention. According to Director for Public Examinations, Mrs Priscilla Ogunbanjo, the Class of 2021 had to navigate through complex and hazardous terrain to arrive at the 2021 NSC Examinations, which will commence on Wednesday, 27 October 2021 and conclude on Tuesday, 07 December 2021. “This is the third examination sitting to be conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic after the combined November 2020 and the May/June 2021 examinations. All candidates, including those who tested positive for COVID-19 or display symptoms, will be accommodated during the examinations in isolation rooms at examination centres. Some PEDs have also established designated centres for use by these candidates”.
Mrs Ogunbanjo emphasised that the DBE and PEDs needed to work together to ensure that learners and teachers comply with health protocols during the duration of the examinations. “To mitigate the COVID-19 resurgence, education district officials are expected to have a team on standby to conduct overnight deep cleaning and decontamination of the examination venues. The DBE and PEDs are therefore leaving no stone unturned in strengthening security measures. We need the support of parents, teachers, principals and members of the public to alert the Department of any irregular practice on social media or on any other platform. The DBE is doing whatever is necessary to ensure that the Class of 2021 are able to write under comfortable, convenient and stress-free circumstances,” explained Ms Ogunbanjo. Provinces also made their presentations on their state of readiness to administer the 2021 NSC Examinations. They all assured the Minister that they were ready to proceed with confidence.
Minister Motshekga expressed her appreciation to District Directors for having supported the DBE in mobilising teachers to get vaccinated. “Although our vaccination programme is gathering momentum, I urge you to ensure that all learners and teachers practice safe COVID-19 procedures. To accelerate the vaccination drive, Cabinet launched the Vooma Vaccination Campaign last weekend. This is a last-ditch attempt to get at least two-thirds of the adult population vaccinated”. The Minister urged District Directors to encourage learners who are eighteen years old and older teachers to vaccinate to reimagine the system back to normality.
Minister Motshekga informed the Forum that COVID-19 has harshly affected curriculum coverage in both General Education and Training (GET) and Further Education and Training (FET), saying that remedial action needs to be taken to prevent further learning losses. “The first step towards addressing the crisis of lost learning is to prevent further disruptions to school time. The second step is to introduce measures to catch up on the learning and teaching time lost. We urge parents and stakeholders in the sector to support our efforts to ensure that education continues without further delays and disruptions,” concluded Minister Motshekga.