Government plans to allow struggling students to complete matric exams over 2 years

The department of basic education has published a new set of proposals that will allow struggling matric students to complete their examinations over two years.

According to the new regulations published on Friday, a number of criteria need to be met before students are allowed to qualify for the “Multiple Examination Option” (MEO).

Under the proposed regulations, the learner must:

  • Be a progressed learner;
  • Have completed all his/her SBA requirements in all seven subjects;
  • Have attended school regularly (not absent for more than 20 days without a valid reason);
  • Have written the Preparatory examination (prelims) in all subjects;
  • Have failed a minimum of three subjects;
  • The learner selecting the Multiple Examination Option must write a minimum of three subiects in his first year (excluding LO) and must have written all seven subjects by the second year.

Policy of progression

The decision to allow these students to write over two years arises as part of an examination and assessment system that must “keep pace with the contextual changes and accommodate learners who are the primary focus of the education system, without compromising standards”, the department said.

This led to the need for a continual review of policy to make it more relevant and meaningful, it said.

“In terms of the Regulations pertaining to the National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12, promulgated on 28 December 2012, a learner may only be retained once in the Further Education and Training Phase in order to prevent the learner from spending more than four years in a phase.

“This implies that a learner who fails a grade for the second time, cannot be retained in the grade, but must be allowed to progress to the next grade.

“However, such a learner at the end of Grade 12, must satisfy all the requirements of the NSC to be awarded the matric certificate.”

According to the department, the rationale behind the policy on progression is that it is intended to minimise the high dropout rate and maximise school retention

The intention is that instead of forcing these learners to consistently repeat a grade, it should rather give them the opportunity to progress to the next grade, and provide them the additional support.

Under the current system, a learner who fails the grade for the second time is not automatically progressed, and must still meet certain criteria, in addition to the basic requirement of not spending more than four years in the phase, before they are progressed to Grade 12.

These learners must pass at least four of the seven subjects (Life Orientation included), they must pass the Language of Learning and Teaching (LoLT), they must have attended school on a regular basis and must have complied with the School Based assessment (SBA) requirements in all subjects.

Reaching matric

These progressed learners are closely monitored throughout the Grade 12 year to ensure they are coping, the department said.

For those who struggle, based on their performance throughout the year, the Policy on Multiple Examination Opportunity (MEO), can then be applied.

This policy allows learners, to take their final examination in two parts, with the learner writing a minimum of three subjects (excluding Life Orientation) in the November examination sitting and the remaining subjects in the subsequent June examination.

The number of subjects learners will be allowed to write in the November examination, will be finally decided based on their results in the preparatory examination. Progressed learners that demonstrate acceptable level of achievement in all subjects will be allowed to write all six subjects.

“The rationale for the Multiple Examination Opportunity (MEO), is to allow these learners to focus on the subjects they are confident in the November examination and to have an extended period to revise and prepare for the remaining subjects, almost six months later, in June of the following year,” the department said.

“Writing all six subjects in the November examination, places them under undue pressure and this will negatively affect their performance in all the subjects.”

The department noted that MEO resembles modularisation, which is a broader concept that relates to the curriculum being divided into a number of units or modules and each of these is examined separately.

“This is a practice in a number of countries around the world, however, in South Africa, the Multiple Examination Opportunity (MEO), only relates to the writing of the NSC examination in two sessions,” it said.

“This dispensation also only applies to learners that are progressed from Grade 11 to Grade 12.”

Read: Concerns raised over plans to “nationalise” SA schools


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Government plans to allow struggling students to complete matric exams over 2 years