Experts to look at viability of independent exam council

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Cape Town – Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says the Council of Education Ministers will appoint a panel of experts to look at the viability of introducing an independent National Examinations Council.

The Minister said this when briefing journalists ahead of the department’s Budget Vote debate in the Old Assembly Chamber on Wednesday afternoon.

The establishment of the independent body, which is aimed at improving the regulation of examinations, was given the thumbs-up at last year’s meeting of the Council of Education Ministers (CEM).

“Last year, the CEM approved a proposal to conduct an exploratory study on the establishment of a National Examinations Council that is independent of the national and provincial governments.

“At the last CEM, the proposal was taken a step further with the approval to appoint consultants, who are experts in the fields related to this study.

“These experts will be appointed on a short–term contract to conduct this investigation and formulate a concept document on the mechanics of setting up and implementing a National Examinations Council,” she said.

The Minister said the panel of experts would focus on:

  • The international research and best practice models in countries that have set up similar councils relating to public examinations;
  • The policy implications of setting up and implementing a National Executive Council (NEC) structure and what would be the roles of the Department of Education and provincial Education Departments;
  • The design of the most appropriate model of an examination board, for the South African context, in terms of organisational structure, administration and quality assurance; and
  • The costing of the current examination arrangement across the department and the nine provincial departments, inclusive of Umalusi and the costing of the new arrangement for each of the parties concerned.

“We are looking forward to reporting back to you when a final decision has been made regarding the establishment of a National Examinations Council and if this would be a viable option for us here in South Africa,” she said.

Public exams to be strengthened

Minister Motshekga said, meanwhile, that the council has also discussed strengthening the marking of the National Senior Certificate exams to ensure that they are reliable and valid.

“Umalusi noted improvements in the marking for the 2016 National Senior Certificate exams and we have seen improved accuracy and consistency in marking since 2014. However, despite this, we acknowledge that there are still challenges associated with the process of marker appointment in the various provinces, as it relates to the calibre and competency of markers.

“CEM approved a proposal to phase in a new model of training and registration of markers that will lead to a revamp of the marker recruitment process in all provinces and improved competency of markers,” Minister Motshekga said.

Minister Motshekga said the model, which is aimed at improving the quality of markers, would incorporate a number of aspects. This will include the preliminary selection of eligible markers, intensive training programme for eligible markers; the evaluation of the competency of eligible markers; the registration of approved markers and the appointment of markers for a specific marking session. –

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