A tweet by the department of basic education on Friday afternoon that the matric computer applications technology (CAT) and IT exams would also have to be rewritten sparked massive panic and confusion.
The tweet came hours after minister Angie Motshekga announced that there would be a national rewrite of the maths paper 2 and physical science paper 2 on December 15 and 17 respectively, after both were leaked.
In a tweet, the department said that the date for “rewriting” the CAT and IT exams was December 17 at 2pm. But pupils were seemingly unaware that this applied only to those schools that had experienced technical problems on the day of the CAT and IT exams.
A pupil tweeted: “Why does CAT have to be rewritten? And is it paper 1 or 2?”
Another angry tweet read: “Why the hell is IT getting rewritten?”
Pupils’ fury over the national rewrite of the maths paper 2 and physical science paper 2 was also very evident on Twitter.
One tweeted: “This is not fair. Why should the masses suffer because of a few people’s mistake?”
Another tweeted: “Don’t be a dumbass. Relearning maths and physical science in a weekend is not ‘write what you already know’.”
Another tweet read: “It’s easy to say rewrite because you aren’t writing it. This is very short notice and unfair. Most of us finish on the 11th and four days after you expect us to write a maths exam.”
And another said: “Ah yes … clearly you can see that the department absolutely does not care about the physical or mental wellbeing of its students. I truly can’t believe how incompetent these people are.”
Meanwhile, the executive director of the National Professional Teachers’ Union of SA (Naptosa), Basil Manuel, said the department’s tweet about the CAT and IT exam was “irresponsible” because it has caused confusion.
“It creates the impression that CAT and IT are being rewritten nationally.”
Manuel said his union was very unhappy about the department’s decision to get all pupils to rewrite the maths paper 2 and physical science paper 2.
He said that the union was “gravely unhappy because we think it’s an overreaction to a small number of learners that may have accessed the paper and we are punishing almost 400,000 learners”.
He said that they believed that the situation could have been handled better.
“We understand there’s a concern about the integrity of the exams and we are fully behind Umalusi in trying to protect the integrity of the exams but we do believe that there are other ways to do it.”
He said that while Naptosa wants to see the guilty parties punished, “at the same time we also don’t want to pressurise the children, some of whom may be quite delicate at this stage”.
“Naptosa is very concerned about the mental health of the children because this is just stressing them out even more after an extremely stressful year.”
Manuel said that they made their views quite clear in a meeting with the irregularities committee as well as in the meeting with the minister.
“We said we do not believe this is the route to go and, in fact, we made it clear that we believe there is an irregularities framework and that this should be utilised to punish those who are guilty of indiscretions.”
Ben Machipi, general secretary of the Professional Educators Union (PEU), said the union was “greatly pained by the decision” for a national rewrite of maths paper 2 and physical science paper 2.
“While this is a bitter pill to swallow, more especially that this is not a problem of our learners’ own making, it remains very difficult to establish who have seen the leaked papers and who have not and as such, a rewrite remains the only fair option that can be given to our learners under the circumstances.”
But he said the news of the rewrite places a huge burden on their psyche, “more especially taking into account the pressure they have been going through as a result of Covid-19”.
“We therefore enjoin all affected learners, our members, parents, community at large, to accept the decision by Umalusi, and prepare to rewrite the papers as directed by DBE [department of basic education].”
Motshekga said that the national senior certificate (NSC) was the flagship qualification relating to schooling.
“Credibility of the NSC examination is of paramount importance. Any lingering doubt relating to the credibility of the NSC examinations must be thoroughly investigated and addressed. Avoiding prior access to the question paper is what all security measures are directed towards.”
She said that after having considered all these factors, the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) decided that a national rewrite of maths paper 2 and physical science paper 2 was necessary.
“It was not an easy decision to take but one which is necessary under the circumstances. We need to work hard to deal with the human factor in the examination system,” she said.