Grade 12 pupils across the country will start writing the 2020 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations from November 5.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga said during a briefing on Thursday that the matric exams would continue until December 15.
“As we had already announced before, the June Senior Certificate (SC) examination was postponed, and will now be written together with the NSC examination in November ,” she said.
“The examination timetable for the combined June and November examination had to be amended so that this examination commences in November, instead of October, as was initially planned.”
The late start of the exams was intended to allow as much time as possible to cover critical curriculum content, and ensure that all examination processes were appropriately managed, she said.
“The combined examination is the largest public examination that has been administered in our country. More than 1 million candidates will sit for the examinations. We certainly have never had to manage a number that large before.”
Schools will reopen on January 25 in 2021. The school calendar will be gazetted this Friday.
In terms of teacher attendance, she said provinces had reported that all teachers were back at work, except those on maternity or sick leave.
With the move to level 1 on September 21, the special dispensation granted to teachers with co-morbidities expired and all teachers have now returned to work unless they are on leave of some sort.
Motshekga said a directive would be published soon on the non-contact sports and training that would be allowed to resume.
“With the country having moved to alert level 1, we would like to propose that non-contact sport training and physical activities in schools should resume, subject to compliance with measures to prevent and combat the spread of Covid-19.
“We will gazette new directions in this regard once the processes have been completed,” said the minister.
Motshekga emphasised that teachers, along with the department, had devised means to help pupils cope with the challenges of schooling during the pandemic.
“We are, however, concerned that there are learners who have not returned to school yet. In the schools that we have visited, the return rate is between 80 to 90%. While it is encouraging to see the numbers increase gradually, we appeal to parents to release their children to return to school,” she said.
“This means that we need to work together with parents and communities to support the children. The fact is that schools are not operating normally at the moment.”
The minister noted that there had been a significant decline in the number of Covid-19 cases both countrywide and in schools, and hardly any schools had had to close down and reopen because of infections. – Additional reporting by Linda Ensor