Helena Johannes

Executive Director in the ministry of Education Art and Culture Sanet Steenkamp has confirmed that the Grade 9 external examination will not be administered in this academic year.

“The Ministry recommended the rationalization of the curriculum to 70 percent of the original school syllabus content for Pre-primary and Grade 1-9. Due to this adjustment, the Grade 9 semi-external examination will not be administered in this academic year,” she said.

This comes after the new school curriculum for junior and senior secondary schools introduced in 2019 had pupils who passed Grade 8 in 2018 enter Grade 9 in 2019, sat for the Junior Secondary School Examinations as a prerequisite for them to proceed to the ordinary Senior Secondary curriculum in Grade 10. The new curriculum made Grade 9 certificates equivalent to the current Grade 10 certificate.

Steenkamp said, “The Ministry revised the promotion requirement of grades one to nine for the 2020 academic year as approved by the National Examinations Assessment and Certification Board (NEACB) by a reduction of 5 percent of the passing rates from 40 percent to 35 percent. This was done in response to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning.”

“This revision of the promotional requirement speaks to issues of progression and repetition”.

However, she was, however, non-committal on whether learners will repeat their current grade or if they will be promoted to the next grades. However, she said there will be further consultations on the issue.

Steenkamp said although she is aware of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on school operations, the examination papers for Grade 12 were set up without any changes compared to previous years in terms of difficulties.

“The standard of school leaving examinations must be the same for the certificates to have the same value throughout the years,” she said.

She added that irrespective of the candidate’s reasons, the usual guidelines remain in place for those candidates who may fail to meet the required admission requirements in programs of their choices. This includes part-time tuition centers, Namibian College for Open Learning (NAMCOL) and other institutions.

“The planning for the national examination has been completed and it’s all systems ‘go’. Candidates have registered and verified their examination registration details, admission permits are printed and sent to schools for distribution, while question papers are printed too and have been delivered to schools across the country already,” she said.

With regards to grade 11 (revised) and 12 (legacy) Higher and Ordinary level national examinations, she said candidates commenced with orals examination on 21 October 2020, while the written papers starts on 09 November until 18 December 2020.

Steenkamp’s comments on consultation over repetition or promotion to the next grade for grade 1 to 9 learners comes as the Ministry previously said is yet to pronounce itself on the matter of learners repeating their grade next year should they fail their end of the year assessments.

“Personally, I think this pandemic had a serious impact on the mental health of our learners. However we looked at arguments from both sides on what is feasible and what is not and the problem was repetition. If we keep them all [in their current grades], we will not have spaces for new intakes next year,” Acting Director of Programmes and Quality Assurance at the Education Ministry, Ayesha Wentworth previously told Windhoek Observer.