The Department of Basic Education held a media briefing today to discuss the progress that the department has been making with the marking of exams. The department has faced some challenges, as some markers have withdrawn at the last minute or tested positive for Covid-19.
The department has confirmed that all marking centres are fully in operation, as health and safety has been a priority at exam marking centres.
The Eastern Cape subjected all markers to Covid-19 tests through rapid testing, in order to identify positive cases of the virus at marking centres. As a result, the province identified 170 markers who tested positive for Covid-19.
The situation was contained as the department found replacement teachers to mark the exam scripts.
Basic Education Director-General, Mathanzima Mweli said although rapid testing is quick and good for identifying positive cases, it is not possible for all provinces to do this as the national department does not have the resources for all marking centres.
Instead, the department has been focusing on ensuring that physical distancing and other preventative measures are followed at marking centres.
"The risk is that if one marker tests positive, then all of those markers have to self isolate and be subjected to testing. By reducing the number of markers in a marking room, it helps to manage the risk much better." said Mweli.
The department has put plans in place, in the event that marking centres continue to face declines and possible shortages of markers.
"Each province will appoint a minimum of 10 to 15% of reserve markers for every paper in each subject. Usually the regulations allow us to appoint up to 10% but we went to 15%. In fact, some provinces went even up to 20% so it wasn't a problem for them to replace the markers that have withdrawn.
"So far, in terms of the total nationally, we have about 2 700 markers that withdrew, that forms about 5.9%. The reserve list goes up to 15% or 20%, therefore there were more than enough reserve workers." said Priscilla Ogunbanjo, the Department's Director for Examination and Assessment.
Recently, the department has been visiting marking centres nationwide in an effort to make sure all centres comply with regulations.
Basic Education Department spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga said marking centres are coping.
"We have been to 6 provinces and at each centre we find that there are people who are there, they are marking and things are going well. They haven't reported any challenges, but what we are really monitoring when we go is to check on the compliance with the Covid-19 regulations in terms of health and safety." said Mhlanga.
The department has taken measures to protect markers in the event that they test positive for Covid-19.
"All is being done to ensure that all the markers are safe. Should anyone be tested positive then they'll be isolated. In some cases in other provinces, those people are then asked to go back home so that they can quarantine properly."