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2020 academic year will go down as the most challenging, says Motshekga

The minister was speaking on Wednesday during a briefing in Pretoria where her team gave an update on progress made in the writing of the final matric exams.

FILE: Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga at a briefing on 1 June 2020. Picture GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Wednesday said the 2020 academic year would go down as the most challenging period for the department to date.

Motshekga was speaking during a briefing in Pretoria where her team gave an update on progress made in the writing of the final matric exams.

The minister said while the writing sessions had largely been smooth, there were serval major hiccups including power outages at some intuitions, protests outside schools in the Western Cape, and the complications created by Wednesday’s taxi strike in Gauteng.

ALSO READ: Plans in place to mitigate taxi strike impact on matric exams - Lesufi

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) revealed that 93 matric pupils had tested positive for COVID-19 across the country, however, it was unclear how many were allowed to write their exams at designated quarantine sites.

Motshekga also weighed in on the circumstances surrounding this week’s leak of the Mathematics Paper 2 exam.

She said the DBE was disappointed.

“The paper that was leaked on Monday we can confirm without any doubt that the paper was leaked,” Motshekga said.

“And that’s why we have given a very elaborate report about what we have done and what the processes are because among others things that we want to do is to make sure that we come out and be transparent, but also find a way of allying the fears and anxieties of parents and learners around the paper that was leaked out,” she added.

The department said COVID-19 cases remained a concern, but its revised safety protocols were helping to manage the impact.

Motshekga said the exam system was now running with minimum challenges in that regard and added they were pleased with the progress made thus far.

The Council of Education Ministers met on Wednesday morning, where they received a report on the progress of the Combined Matric Examinations.

This year’s exam were the largest yet with more than one million candidates who were writing across the country.

“We are operating 8,200 exam centres in different provinces and we had to engage almost 80,000 invigilators to help us to manage the environment. In total we have 216 question papers that have to be written across different subjects,” Motshekga said.

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