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The Department of Basic Education has cancelled the June Mid-Year exams for Grade 12 (matric learners) in a measure to make up for the lost time. The lockdowns and delayed opening of schools from 2020 and 2021 has resulted in curriculum completion challenges as per the pacesetters. 

Curriculum incompletion has inherently resulted in students having content gaps and is increasingly becoming a big challenge to the current teaching and learning. The Department’s strategy is good and well informed however at the same time as a parent or member of the community you need to be concerned with such a decision to scrap June exams for matric learners. 

June exams are an important assessment that gives both schools and the department an indication of what the current achievements of learners are at. The exams serve as a kind of a wake up call instrument which helps parents to seek help for their children through extra classes as well as be more involved in their schooling. It is also a wake up call for the schools, mainly principals and HODs and their respective subject advisors to see the current performance of their grade 12 and inform the type of intervention needed. 

But beside that, there is more concern with the decision of scrapping the exams. It means that the students will only be tested by their class teachers and those results will be the ones used to measure performance. The test is determined by the teacher according to what he/she sees best for the students as well as what is good for them. Every teacher wants to get good results and to do so the test they will give will also be such that they get what they want. 

This setting of tests for June exams by class teachers will give a false positive for parents and learners who will rejoice at the high marks first for April exams and now for June exams.The true test will then be measured in the preliminary exams. This is where most students and parents will be shocked when the performance drops drastically. Usually student performance in the three terms is high in April exams, followed by a drop in June exams and a further drop in Preliminary September exams. But now with no June exams the next actual test for students will be in September. 

The response for teachers in September after the preliminary results can be predicted. Teachers will claim they did their best under Covid challenges and students will be victims. The time to recover will be limited given that exams start a few weeks after the preliminary exams. Hence it is not a cause for celebration or relief for learners to relax. In fact it is time for learners to even be more focused on doing their revision using previous papers and any extra classes they can get. 

There have been mixed feelings from different bodies with some welcoming the move by the department while others are criticizing it. I am for one neither for nor against but my main focus is on the learner. The decisions must not result in learners being victims. Instead the schools and parents must focus on an intense revision session and also moderate the internal tests they will give their learners. HODs must do their best to ensure the tests are of good standard and fair to learners. All this is easier said than done knowing especially the state of our public schools. 

For learners who are able to attend extra classes, this is the time for them to focus more on these extra classes. Parents who can afford to send their students for extra classes must do so as soon as they can.

Read more below on different views from different organisations: