6 October 2016
Umalusi, the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training, has declared the South African examination system ready for the 2016 final examinations. Umalusi quality assures all exit point examinations in general and further education (NQF levels 1-4).
Preparations for the oncoming examinations have started in earnest and all assessment bodies have presented their plans to Umalusi. For the National Senior Certificate (NSC) alone, the 2016 examinations will be written by approximately 668 612 full time and 146 997 part-time candidates with a total of approximately 815 609 candidates. These examinations will take place at more than 7 000 centres and will be marked by over 38 000 markers across the provinces. The Independent Examinations Board has registered 11 821 full time candidates across the country and 34 part time candidates in 230 examination centres.
At every stage during the conduct and administration of exit point examinations, Umalusi applies rigorous quality assurance methods to gauge the readiness of assessment bodies to administer fair and credible examinations without systemic irregularities. All examination papers are moderated and approved by Umalusi before they can be written by the learners. The internal assessments that take place in schools also fall within Umalusi's mandate, and these assessments are monitored, learners' tasks are moderated, and the final marks that contribute to the overall results are also statistically moderated to ensure consistency and reliability. Finally, the administration of national examinations is monitored, marking is verified and the final results are also statistically moderated.
As the quality assurer for this important sector of the South African education system, Umalusi's role is to monitor the public assessment bodies - Department of Basic Education and Department of Higher Education and Training - the accredited private assessment bodies Independent Examinations Board (IEB) and the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI).
Umalusi notes with regret that last year's final NSC examinations were marred by incidents of paper leakages in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng. The safety and security of examination materials has obviously become one of our focal points in the preparations for the 2016 examinations. As we did in the past two years, drastic measures will be taken against all learners, educators and departmental officials who are found guilty of copying, paper leakages and other forms of cheating.
Overall, Umalusi is satisfied with the preparations for the end-of-year exams, and is confident that the general education system is adequately prepared to run these assessments successfully. Umalusi is also pleased to report that most provinces have improved their systems based on the concerns raised by Umalusi previously. However, this does not mean that Umalusi does not have some outstanding concerns regarding the upcoming national examinations. Key among these concerns is the status of storage facilities in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape especially at nodal distribution points. Also, both EC and Limpopo still need to address the issue of staff shortages. Subsequently, Umalusi has recommended to the Department of Basic Education that intensive monitoring of these provinces needs to be instituted to mitigate possible unintended consequences of this situation. For its part, Umalusi will also intensify its monitoring where it deems it necessary to do so.
Unfortunately every year Umalusi becomes aware of new efforts by unscrupulous people to cheat the system, and every year we strive to improve our systems so that we can continue to close down any gaps or spaces where such incidents could occur. Needless to say, our assessment procedures and systems have matured over the years.
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