Axing of senior markers ‘a slap in the face’
THE SELECTION of teachers to mark matric exam scripts is again fraught with contestation.
Teachers’ unions have complained bitterly of the appointment process being unfair, accusing the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department of inexplicably overlooking a number of qualified and experienced senior markers.
Two of the country’s four major teachers’ unions – the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU) and the National Teachers Union (Natu) – have penned letters of complaint to the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department and the national Basic Education Department.
Both the provincial and national departments have, however, argued that there was nothing sinister behind certain teachers not being reappointed – it was simply a case of an ever-growing number of suitably qualified applicants.
This year, 9 450 markers will grade exam answer scripts in KwaZulu-Natal.
Of these, there is a senior marker who oversees every five markers and a deputy chief marker who oversees every five senior markers. There are also chief markers and moderators to oversee the process.
Teachers belonging to the SAOU and to the National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa), and who are experienced senior exam script markers, were shocked not to be appointed this year, saying the norm was to be reselected for at least three consecutive years. The teachers intend lodging formal grievances with the provincial department.
Reniël Lodewyk, the head of the SAOU branch of KZN, said that to replace experienced senior markers without any explanation was “a in the face”.
She added: “You can’t just replace experienced markers and believe that the current standard of marking will be the same.”
Lodewyk was also worried that at a specific KwaZulu-Natal school, there had been a complaint that most of the teachers who were proficient in Afrikaans were not appointed to mark answer scripts.
Anthony Pierce, the head of Naptosa’s KZN branch, remarked that he too had received a number of such complaints.
He remarked that the appointment of matric exam markers remained a politically contested arena.
Nomarashiya Caluza, acting head of Sadtu KZN, said she had received a few similar complaints, but that each year, a certain portion of the pool of markers had to be the newly qualified.
Allen Thompson, national deputy head of Natu, said that while he had received many similar complaints, there was no guarantee that senior markers would be reappointed from year to year.
What had upset Thompson were claims that teachers who did not meet the criteria were nevertheless appointed.
He had written to the national department to complain and threatened to take the matter up with Umalusi, the exam quality watchdog.
Basic Education Department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga responded that all the teachers’ unions had been involved in the process of appointing exam markers.
An audit had been done of the experience and qualifications of all the markers, and the department was satisfied that the right people were appointed.
Provincial department spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said exam markers reapplied every year and there was no guarantee.