Media Statement: Our #ShiftTheDate petition and the search for clarity regarding matric 2020 re-write exams. - Youth Capital

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Media Statement: Our #ShiftTheDate petition and the search for clarity regarding matric 2020 re-write exams.

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Clarity required regarding matric 2020 re-write exams.

Youth Capital released a petition on Friday 29 January 2021 to call on the DBE to #ShiftTheDate for the 2020 National Senior Certificate (NSC) matric candidates to register to re-write their final exams. We have now taken the petition down and have clarified the process of registration with an official at the Department of Basic Education. We sincerely apologise if our petition created any more confusion – our intention was to raise what we believed to be an urgent issue for young South Africans.

What happened?

When visiting the Department of Basic Education (DBE) website for Second Chance candidates, the landing page reflects the following copy:

“Want to write your Matric? Registration for the May/June 2021 Examinations is now open. 03 November 2020 – 28 February 2021”.

We were concerned by these dates as they would give the 2020 matric candidates needing to rewrite only five days after receiving their results to register, and contacted the DBE to understand whether these dates could be shifted. In response, we were told that the 28 February 2021 was not flexible and 2020 matric students, who felt they may need a second chance, could pre-emptively register in advance of receiving their results.

Our network of young people reflected back to us that:

  • The online registration system was not functioning or allowing them to register for the exam prior to receiving their results;
  • The district offices referred second chance learners to the online website;
  • Many young people are feeling particularly anxious and vulnerable after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Concerned, we raised a petition to #ShiftTheDate of the registration for the 2020 National Senior Certificate (NSC) matric re-write examination.

However, on Monday, 1 February 2021, a young member of the Youth Capital network informed us that registration for the NSC was possible until 12 March 2021, and indicated that he knew this based on a hard copy document given to him by a friend. We were confused by the contrasting information, and began trying to understand this in more depth.

After contacting the national Department of Basic Education, the Western Cape Education Department, three schools, 31 DBE district offices, the DBE WhatsApp line for second chance learners, the DBE call centre, one NGO and three private matric re-write support schools, it was still unclear whether National Senior Certificate candidates could apply through an online registration portal and/or manually at the DBE’s district offices, and until what date. At this point we received conflicting information from multiple sources, and multiple stakeholders admitted that they were not clear on the registration protocols for National Senior Certificate candidates and Amended Senior Certificate candidates.

National Senior Certificate or Senior Certificate?

A particular challenge is that there are two types of ‘matric exams’ that people can register for:

The National Senior Certificate (NSC) – according to the DBE’s website, eligible candidates include:

  • Candidates who were absent with a valid reason (medical unfit, death in the immediate family or other special reasons) from one or more external question papers, may register for the NSC June examination;
  • Candidates who want to improve their overall achievement status, or only want to improve the achievement of a subject, may register for the NSC June examination;
  • In a case where an irregularity is being investigated, provisional enrolment for NSC June examination may be granted to the candidate concerned, pending the outcome of the investigation;
  • Candidates who were unable to write or complete one or more of the NSC November examination question papers for reasons other than illness/injury or death in the family, may apply to write the NSC June examination, provided that a written report is submitted by the principal of the school to the Head of the assessment body;

The Amended Senior Certificate (SC) – according to the DBE’s website, eligible candidates include:
o Adult learners who are 21 years and older who have:

  • A General Education and Training Certificate (GETC);
  • A Grade 9 school report (or the old standard seven), stating that they have passed Grade 9 or Standard 7; or
  • A recognised equivalent qualification obtained at NQF Level which requires two official languages;
  • An incomplete Senior Certificate qualification;
  • An incomplete National Senior Certificate;or
  • In exceptional cases, out of school youth, who are 18-21 years old and who could not complete their school education due to circumstances beyond their control, as verified by the Head of Department in the Provincial Education Department;
  • Adult candidates who are 21 years and older with an incomplete NSC may choose to complete the NSC, or convert to the Senior Certificate. Should the candidate choose to convert to the Senior Certificate, they may not revert to the NSC and attempt to complete the NSC qualification.

Based on available online information, multiple emails and phone calls with officials from DBE we have established that:

  •  For the National Senior Certificate (NSC) candidates: the manual registration closes on 12 March and must be done at district offices- the online registration is not possible;
  • For the Senior Certificate (SC) candidates: the online registration (link here) closes on 28 February, and the manual registration closes on 12 March at district offices.

Through our desktop research, we have confirmed the following:

  • Documents to register at a district office: According to the DBE website, applicants will need a completed registration form. A certified copy of the ID document or birth certificate or passport (foreign candidates). Repeater candidates must attach a copy of their previous highest qualification. Those who have entered and written any other Grade 12 or equivalent examination before, will need to supply the examination numbers for those exams. A full list of district offices is available here.

Applicants do not have to pay any fees to register. Registering through any of the DBE’s district offices is free of charge.

Youth Capital is in contact with an official from the Department of Basic Education. We have raised the confusion about this process and have requested that they clarify the information on their website and other communication channels. They have been receptive to this message and we thank them for listening. We sincerely apologise if our petition created any more confusion – our intention was to raise what we believed to be an urgent issue for young South Africans.

The need for accurate information.

One of the major constraints to young people’s ability to navigate their way to opportunities is that the information they need is often difficult to find, housed in multiple places and/or outdated. Often their experience is that critical information is inaccurate or contradictory leading them to take actions that are unhelpful and frustrating. The information asymmetries young people experience are real – with tangible impacts on their lives. It took us as a team of people with social networks and resources over five days and direct contact with a DBE official to clarify this issue. How many parents and learners have previously been unable to access this opportunity because the right information was not easily available?

This is a case where unclear information and processes could stand in the way of a young person accessing a life-changing opportunity, simply because they could not find the right information at the right time.

We stand firm in our belief that South Africa can be a place where every young person has the skills and opportunities to get their first decent job, and will continue to work with government and social partners to make the process of registering for the matric re-write as clear as possible.

Why is this important?

Having a matric qualification (NSC or SC) opens doors to further education and employment opportunities. However, every year, many young people do not make it to Grade 12, do not pass Grade 12, or pass Grade 12 without a Bachelor’s Pass. These supplementary exams offer learners a second chance at obtaining their matric certificate or improving their results. Last year in particular, COVID-19 led to delays to the 2020 academic calendar, and clarity on the second chance matric registration process is even more critical.

We commit to continue working with the DBE to ensure that the registration process is clear for learners.

Disclaimer: All the information we’ve included in this statement comes from reliable sources. We commit to share any updates on the matter on our website and social media.

Download our full media statement here

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