Covid-19 lowers selection criteria for matric exam markers



Do you want to join the team that mark the nation's matric exam papers, but you don't meet the requirements to apply?

Well, this might just be your chance.

Worried that the pandemic might cause a shortage of experienced matric exam markers, the Basic Education Department has decided to relax the list of requirements this year’s recruits will have to meet. Director-General Mathanzima Mweli told provincial education departments that they are allowed to deviate slightly when interviewing new candidates.

The usual group of markers may not be available this year because some are over the age of 65 and may have comorbidities which put them at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill should they become infected.

“The Covid-19 pandemic and the risk-adjusted strategy would impact on the availability of markers across all provinces, given the risks associated with large gatherings and the large number of educators that are over the age of 60 and those with comorbidities,” Mweli said.

Candidates are usually Grade 12 teachers with at least two years’ experience in the subject or language they applied to mark.

Because of this possible shortage, Mweli not only gave provinces the green light to relax the requirements, but he also approved  the start of a new recruitment drive “in cases where marker shortages have been identified.”

As part of this easing of the requirements, Mweli said that Grade 11 teachers can be appointed for subject marking, as long as they met some of the requirements.

“Teachers currently teaching Grade 11, provided that they have taught the subject in Grade 12 for a minimum of two years in the last five years, can be considered for marking,” he said.

“However, in the case of languages, Paper 2 (literature), the applicants must have taught the Grade 12 genres being examined in 2020.”

Rather than the usual 10% quota of mid-level markers allowed per subject, per paper, Provinces can now allow a maximum of 15% of mid-level markers in a subject.

If the department notices a higher than expected shortage of qualified candidates, the requirements might be relaxed even further.

“In exceptional circumstances, where the required number of markers for a subject cannot be achieved, the criteria for the appointment of markers … may be relaxed by the head of department, provided it does not compromise the quality of marking,” Mweli said. 

The National Teachers Union (Natu) warned against hiring Grade 11 teachers over their matric counterparts, though.

Natu president Allen Thompson says that there were plenty of matric teachers who meet the requirements of the role but had never been appointed as markers despite applying.

“We’ll support the department provided that all the Grade 12 teachers who applied have been appointed.

“We’re saying before you can talk about Grade 11 teachers, we have so many Grade 12 teachers who applied and have not been appointed,” said Thompson.

The Grade 11 group appointed along with the matric teachers would not mean the standard of grading, however.

“We’re not opposed to that as long as people are subject specialists and have experience in the subject, said Thompson

“They’ll never appoint someone who’s never taught a subject he’s marking, we’ll make sure of that.”

Although Mweli says that the country’s lockdown alert level cannot be accurately predicted when this starts, marking is scheduled to take place between the 4th and the 22nd of January 2021.

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