Johannesburg – The Gauteng Department of Basic Education has announced it had replaced 800 matric examination markers.
Spokesperson Steve Mabona said on Thursday some of the markers had pulled out because they tested positive for Covid-19 while others had been in contact with people who were positive. Other reasons for withdrawing included comorbidities, fear of the virus and bereavement, he said.
“We have replaced all who did not come, so we don’t see any challenge when coming to the marking of scripts.”
As hundreds of teachers have pulled out of the marking centres, scores started the work prior to getting their test results.
Mathanzima Mweli, director-general of the national department, revealed on Thursday markers who produced their test results were working alongside colleagues still awaiting theirs. He was addressing markers in the Free State. Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga broadcast Mweli’s address live on social media.
More than 45 000 teachers began marking 14 million scripts of the matric class of 2020 this week.
Working from 181 centres across the country, the markers were scheduled to conclude the massive job by January 22.
Mweli said the Eastern Cape Education Department was strict on test results.
But, he said, there were discrepancies in the province too, as several markers began the job while awaiting their results. “If things would have gone my way, I would have said everyone who’s coming for marking must be tested,” Mweli told the markers.
“(This) is what they are doing in the Eastern Cape. They test the security personnel. They test those who prepare food for them.
“They test the centre manager. And your team, before you get into the premises, you get tested (and) you produce your results.
“It helps to manage (the spread). It’s not a guarantee, but it helps.”
The Eastern Cape Education Department sent 74 markers home after they tested positive for Covid-19.
Malibongwe Mtima, the department’s spokesperson, said it was thanks to the test results requirement that they managed to track the positive markers. “It helped a lot,” he said.
Basil Manuel, executive director of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA, said it was regrettable the testing was not a requirement across the provinces.
“We should have made it a requirement. It would have created a safer environment for everyone else,” he told The Star.
Mweli said the marking centres would adhere to all precautions to ensure no one got infected. Despite the troubled times, the marking had to continue, he stressed.
“The problem is that if we say don’t come for marking, then what happens to the young people who were in Grade 12 last year?
“How long are those young people going to wait? That’s the conundrum that all of us find ourselves in.
“But the president and cabinet said we must learn to co-exist with the virus. The nation is concerned about your health and safety, rightfully so. You have to be safe.”