The marking of 2020 combined National Senior Certificate and Senior Certificate examinations has been completed by most provinces, ahead of schedule, according to the Basic Education Department.
The department held a technical briefing on the marking process in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Free State, North West, Western Cape, and the centralised marking centres were the only sites to finish and expected to wrap up by Friday, 22 January.
“Over 90% of our marking centres have completely closed,” the department’s director-general Mathanzima Mweli said during the briefing.
The department said 9.5 million scripts were marked in 177 centres by 45 000 markers.
Marking across provinces started on 4 January and the completion date was set to Friday, 22 January.
Head of exams, Priscilla Ogubanjo, said most of the provinces that were yet to finish were marking one or two subjects.
“But certainly by Friday you will not be finding anybody at the marking centres. The packing up would have been done and people would have been gone,” she said.
The department said it expected all the remaining centres to be done and saw no reason for them to miss the Friday deadline.
At least 94.6% of 45 272 expected markers arrived at centres, which were compliant with health and safety protocols amid the adjusted Level 3 lockdown due to the second Covid-19 wave, the department said.
She said 2 463 markers from the expected 45 272 withdrew and were replaced by 1 736.
Covid-19 related issues at centres
Centres were faced with a difficult task, having to work under strict conditions to ensure there was no spreading of the virus.
Ogubanjo said 0.7% (315) of the 45 272 markers, tested Covid-19 positive either on arrival, or shortly after commencement of the process.
In the Eastern Cape, 168 were not even allowed in the centres when they were at the gate because they had tested positive, she added.
Seven fatalities were reported – three in Kwazulu-Natal and and one each in Gauteng, Limpopo, Western Cape and the centralised centre.
“Most of these markers actually arrived at the marking centre already sick. Some of them arrived and the very next day, they were sick, which meant they were incubating, or they had the symptoms when they arrived,” the head of exams said.
Mark capturing was already underway with 611 capturers across provinces. The process would be three-phased: capturing, verification and mark transfer.
Ogubanjo said all capturing should be completed by 25 January.
The department said challenges involving a shortage of markers due to unforeseen circumstances were quickly attended to.
Where there was load shedding, plans were made to not hinder the process, including starting earlier before schedule.
Back-up generators were provided to six provinces.
The department expected to complete all its processes, including the pre and standardisation of scripts processes as well as presenting irregularities to quality assurance council, Umalusi, before Minister Angie Motshekga releases the results on 22 February followed by different provinces on 23 February.
Mweli said there were a couple of irregularities, including errors in registrations prior to writing. He added that the issue of the leaked Mathematics and Physical Sciences papers would be discussed during a meeting dealing with irregularities.
Applications for remarks would then open on 24 February and the closing date set to 10 March.
“It is important that every script of every learner is accounted for. We offered approximately 216 papers to be written and each learner writes approximately 16 papers.
“You can imagine the millions of scripts we handled. The 2020 exams was unprecedented. We know the circumstances that took place.
“The capacity of the system has been stretched. We are not living in another planet, [but] in the same country and world that is experiencing Covid-19.
“But I believe the mettle of the system has been tested because the system is as good as how it will react under difficult circumstances,” Ogubanjo said.