The Department of Basic Education is scrapping supplementary exams for matrics, in favour of a new system that will delay rewrites to the middle of the year.
According to the department, speaking to IOL, the decision was approved in 2017 to do away with the current system and introduce a new one that will make it easier for students to rewrite their failed subjects.
The way supplementary exams currently work is that any student who failed a matric paper – or would like an opportunity to do better in one – can register to rewrite with an extra-curricular set of papers written in the first few months of the new school year.
However, department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said that most students were struggling with this timeline, as there was not enough time to prepare in the month in between exams.
The new system which will kick in next year, pushes a second chance out to the middle of the year where a second national exam (currently the Senior Certificate exam) will be held.
According to Mhlanga, the positives that come with this new system include giving students more time to prepare, and thus a better chance at passing, as well as saving the department the millions of rands spent setting up the supplementary exams early in the year.
On the negative side, however, students who need to rewrite subjects will have to wait a full year before they can apply to go to university – though the department has argued that this has generally already been the case, with the current supplementary exams already being too late for access to most institutions.
Changing the system
The scrapping of the February supplementary exams is part of a wider process to streamline South Africa’s three groups of exams – which are all currently set differently – first proposed in 2017.
According to the proposals, the goal is to streamline the current three sets (National Senior Certificate, Senior Certificate and supplementary exams) into just one exam (National Senior Certificate).
By 2019, the supplementary exams will be merged with the Senior Certificate exams (intended for young adults aged 18 – 21) which are held in June.
By 2020, the department wants to do away with these exams by merging that group with the National Senior Certificate (matric) exams, held at the end of the year.