Matrics give thumbs up to first exam paper

Hundreds of thousands of pupils across the country wrote the English paper, leaving the exam room in high spirits

The class of 2021 sit for their first exam. English paper 1. at Noordwyk Secondary School in Midrand.
The class of 2021 sit for their first exam. English paper 1. at Noordwyk Secondary School in Midrand.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

There was joy, excitement and nervousness as the matric class of 2021 sat for its first exam on Thursday.

Hundreds of thousands of pupils across the country wrote the English paper, leaving the exam room in high spirits and hopeful that they would sail through the period with ease.

Some pupils raised frustration about Eskom's load-shedding, which is currently at stage 4 until Friday and will drop to stage 2 until Saturday.

At Noordwyk Secondary School, where minister of basic education Angie Motshekga was in the morning to monitor the start of the exams, 22-year-old Xolani Ntuli was also celebrating his birthday.

Meckenzi Mokobodi and Koketso Lekolwane from Seshego High School in Moletji.
Meckenzi Mokobodi and Koketso Lekolwane from Seshego High School in Moletji.
Image: SUPPLIED

“I was excited about the first question as it was motivating youth to do better than adults. It is young people that will turn the country around for the better. I got stuck on question five, which was a text that contained deliberate language errors,” he said.

“I didn't leave any blank spaces. I wrote it with confidence and understanding,” said Ntuli, who plans to  do a BCom at the University of Johannesburg.

Fellow pupils also agreed that question five gave them a bit of a headache.

Zandi Mothipi, 18, said she spent lot of time on it.

“It was a bit confusing, however the exam was fair. Some of the questions are what we expected,” she said.

Mothipi said load-shedding was impeding her preparations, as her family could not afford to buy alternative sources of electricity.

“It’s affecting us, I am using candles to study. It’s even worse because I come from a poor background, staying in a shack. When there is load-shedding it’s a problem.

“I study at night most of the time and by the time I need to study, electricity is causing problems.”

Nicolas Bouwer, 18, said preparations for the exams have been difficult.

“It has been very stressful because a lot of things need time management and load-shedding coming into question is a very huge, problematic factor.

“Our age group can’t do things without using the internet, so we rely on the internet to study. When there is load-shedding there is no network coverage, no internet,” he said. 

Umalusi, the council for quality assurance, also voiced concerns about load-shedding.

CEO Dr Mafu Rakometsi said: “They need a lot of study time, which cannot be disrupted by load-shedding as they need to study right through the night. For instance, in Gauteng today we had cloudy, rainy weather and the classrooms were dark. Some candidates may not be able to go through the question papers and everyone deserves a fair chance to be able to go through their papers.”

Rakometsi said the first day of the exams went well and about 609,830 candidates sat for English home language.

“I wrote very well and the paper was so simple. I'm confident that I will pass,” said Peggy Mokhondo, 19, from Lehlabile Secondary in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria.

She said she did extra lessons and had a study group on WhatsApp. 

Tshedza Mufhadi, 20, from Ribane Laka Secondary, said the paper was understandable and he was prepared for it. 

“I will pass English with flying colours and I'm ready for the next paper,” said Mufhadi.

Kumanego Mamabolo, 17, from Boetse Secondary School in Moletji-Mabokolele, Limpopo, said: “I started very well with today’s paper because it was easy and I’m expecting best results. I wish the next papers could be as easy as the English paper.

“I’m more than ready as I’m prepared for mathematics literacy, which we are writing next week. I think the way our class is prepared will improve our school’s matric results.” 

Tshepang Ramogoshi said he doesn’t expect less than an 80% pass in English.

“Everything I studied was there, hence I found it to be the easiest. I’m aware that my excitement might end in tears at the end but I’m prepared for those subjects known to be difficult,” he said.

Mekhenzi Mokhobodi, 17, from Seshego High School in Moletji, said though he can’t predict the results, he is confident that he is going to pass.

“Failing is not an option. I can’t spend sleepless nights for nothing,” he said.

Motshekga said the class of 2021 had the most difficult time.

“In their Grade 11, they only came back to school in July. They had less than 40% of learning and teaching, which is why they had to carry some of their Grade 11 work to Grade 12. The English paper they are writing on Thursday was set in 2019,” she said.

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