The department of basic education has extended the marking of grade 12 exam papers due to a shortage of markers after some withdrew or declined to work‚ often because of Covid-19.
This was revealed by an education official during a media briefing on Monday. It was also revealed that marking would go on for 18 days‚ as opposed to 12 to 14 days in previous years.
Marking started on January 4 and was expected to be completed on January 22.
“To date 2‚703 of 46‚024 markers withdrew‚” said Priscilla Ogunbanjo‚ director for examinations at the department.
She said one marker in Estcourt‚ KwaZulu-Natal‚ reported for duty at a marking centre while feeling sick and later died of Covid-19 complications. Another marker has since contracted the coronavirus at the centre.
Of those who tested positive‚ 238 markers contracted the coronavirus after reporting for duty.
“There has been anxiety and fear among markers and their families to the extent that some marking personnel opted to withdraw from the process. While some withdrew due to the fear‚ others withdrew because they themselves had tested positive for Covid-19 or somebody in the family had tested positive.
“In most cases in the Eastern Cape‚ most if not all the markers who tested positive reported they had recently attended weddings‚ funerals or family events with a considerable amount of people present.
“This confirms once again that social gatherings and the lack of compliance in such settings remains our single biggest challenge when it comes to the fight against Covid-19‚” said director-general Mathanzima Mweli.
Ogunbanjo said the department had replaced the infected markers‚ decontaminated the affected centres and followed all other safety protocols.
Mweli said he had visited 97 centres in six provinces to monitor the marking progress.
“For the first time in the history of the administration of the examinations‚ the basic education sector placed health and safety as priority number one.”
As part of the mitigation strategies‚ Mweli said every centre across the provinces had appointed a Covid-19 compliance officer.
In the Eastern Cape‚ all the markers were subjected to Covid-19 tests. This would be “impossible to do” in all the provinces‚ he said.
Source: ARENA Holdings.