The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is planning a number of changes to national assessments and examinations at the schools in South Africa.
In its annual performance plan for 2021/2022, the department said that this will include an investigation into the use of bilingual question papers for the first time.
“In 2021, the DBE will initiate research on the feasibility of introducing bilingual question papers as part of the assessment programme in selected subjects,” it said.
“All stakeholders will be consulted and part of the research will entail familiarity with the specialised vocabulary used during the teaching of these subjects and the piloting of the setting of question papers in African languages in two identified subjects for the November 2021 examinations in Grade 11.”
The DBE said it is also in the process of developing an advanced system of generating question papers, called ‘item banking’.
The system will generate question papers and marking guidelines for all public examinations in South Africa, it said.
“This significant intervention will be phased in over the next few years for the General Education Certificate (grade 9) and National Senior Certificate. The question papers and marking guidelines will be generated from a pool of items that are coded by subject area, question type, level of complexity and other pertinent item characteristics.”
The department said that the terms of reference for the procurement of an item banking system will be finalised in the first quarter of 2021 and the tender will be advertised in the third quarter of 2021.
Electronic marking system
Electronic marking will allow marking of the national examinations to be done online and has major advantages relating to the improved quality of marking, the department said.
It added that it has already developed draft terms of reference outlining the technical and user requirement specifications for a national e-marking system.
“The terms of reference will be finalised by June 2021 and a service provider will be appointed by October 2021. The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) piloted its e-marking system in two 2019 SC Examination subjects in July 2019.
“This pilot provided the opportunity for the DBE to gain insight into how the system was designed and how the manual marking systems could be adapted to the online system.”
The department said that the online application will allow candidates to apply for their certificates through an electronic platform. All candidates will be able to apply online and the processing will be done by the relevant provincial education department.
“This will avoid queuing at the offices of the Department of Basic Education and the provincial education departments,” it said.
“The project is being piloted by the DBE and will be extended to the provincial education departments in 2021.”