Reader’s letter: Communities walk together on matric final exam journey


Dr. Chris-Mari Le Hanie, a lecturer at the Faculty of Education at Akademia, writes:

Matriculants across South Africa are preparing to sit for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination from 30 October. According to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, more than 723,000 candidates will take this year’s exam in 6,800 centers nationwide.

This exam, which runs to an end during the first week of December, not only represents an important scholastic assessment period, but also a time of heightened emotion and anxiety for learners. In light of this, it is important that parents, guardians, carers and the community as a whole pull together in support of these learners and embark on the final journey as fellow travellers.

Looking at the origin of the word “assessment”, it is interesting to see that the Latin verb asides means “to sit together”. Etymologically, this meaning reflects the multidimensional nature of assessment and it becomes clear that the matric final exam, as a means of assessment, is not something that matriculants have to go through alone. No. The final exam is a community activity and bears witness to more than just a summative assessment objective.

Teachers find themselves in the front line with their learners during the final exam. In this respect, educators fulfill seven important roles, among others those of: facilitator, subject specialist, curriculum developer, researcher and lifelong learner, community leader and manager.

The next level of support consists of parents, guardians and the carers of matriculants. It is the role of this inner circle to pay attention to the physical manifestation and accompanying management of a matriculant’s stress levels. Support is offered by, among other things, having regular conversations with the learner, showing interest, acting as a motivator and the establishment of conducive learning spaces.

The wider community serves as a third level of support. The latter is particularly important when it comes to breaking open contexts. Because the matriculation exam is a standardized exam, it is assumed that all South African matriculants enjoy the same contextual exposure. This assumption is problematic due to the varied socio-economic and geopolitical nature of the country and therefore the onus rests on communities to equip matriculants with knowledge.

Professionals such as counsellors, life coaches, spiritual and community leaders act within this level of support as important guideposts in a matriculant’s examination journey.

This is a processed version of the article that was originally published on Akademia’s website.