Stressed students relieved but DBE and Umalusi can’t fail again
* ACDP welcomes court’s decision as it will bring relief to stressed learners.
* Notes that the court described the process the DBE and Umalusi followed as a “shambles”.
* States that the DBE in particular needs to improve its legal compliance capability.
* Will request the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee to call the DBE and Umalusi to Parliament to report.
* Calls on Umalusi to use a consultative and flexible approach when certifying the NSC.
The ACDP welcomes the High Court’s setting aside of the DBE’s decision to order a rewrite. “It is troubling that the process followed by the DBE was, to quote the court, a “shambles”. The DBE and Umalusi need to explain to Parliament why they failed to follow the processes set out in their regulations and how they are going to strengthen their structures and processes to ensure that there is no recurrence of this debacle in the future. With this decision, the judiciary has vindicated the trust that ordinarySouth Africans place in it to uphold the constitutional order. Hundreds of thousands of maths and physical science learners were no doubt relieved to hear that they will not have to rewrite their papers.
Many students had already left school, returned their textbooks and even burnt their notes. It is difficult to imagine the stress these students were placed under. It is evident from the judgment that the DBE is failing to follow its own regulations. I will be appealing to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education to urgently call both the DBE and Umalusi before the Committee to present plans on how to strengthen their legal compliance processes. As a Committee, we have to ensure that the DBE takes compliance seriously and that the Legal and Legislative Directorate is adequately resourced to perform its function. This is, however, not just a resourcing issue, a culture of independence needs to be established and senior officials need to both consult the DBE’s internal legal staff and follow their recommendations.
The ‘record of decision’ that the DBE provided at the trial was woefully inadequate and this reflects a lack of clear internal processes. Budget cuts will seriously impact the education sector in SA and the DBEcannot afford to be wasting money on indefensible court cases and paying away funds that should go to helping our learners. Umalusi will now have to make the weighty decision of whether or not to certify the 2020 Matric exam. We cannot afford to have a repeat of the poor decision making that marked the decision to order the re-write. Umalusi, therefore, needs to ensure that its procedures are legal and scientifically rigorous. At the same time, it must act flexibly when assessing the credibility of the 2020 NSC exams.
It is vital that it consults widely, especially with international assessment bodies, and is open to innovative solutions when determining the credibility of this year’s NSC. They owe this to the class of 2020.0