The Gauteng department of education has recorded a concerning rate of absenteeism on the first day of matric exams on Monday.
The matric Class of 2023 sat for its English Home Language Paper 1 and English First Additional Language Paper 1 on the first day of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.
The department said at least one student was caught breaking one of the rules after being found in possession of a cellphone.
Eight other students from the Tshwane West district backed off from the examinations at the last hour, stating that they were not prepared.
Three more candidates were reportedly absent due to ill-health, while two others gave no reason for their absence.
Learner allegedly died by suicide
In Daveyton in Ekurhuleni, a Unity Secondary School learner poisoned herself a day before the start of the examinations.
Matome Chiloane, MEC for education in Gauteng, said learners are encouraged to contact the SA Depression and Anxiety Group and Childline for mental support whenever they feel stressed out.
He said learners also need to bare their mental health pledge in mind, realising that the support structures are available to provide support.
“Despite the first day of exams having went smoothly in Gauteng, we are devastated by the loss of one candidate who took her own life just before her first exam,” Chiloane said.
“We wish to convey our sincerest condolences to her family and the school at large.
“Learners are urged to use our available structures to express any issues they are facing, our officials are more than happy to help.”
He added that learners should also remember the commitment needed during the exam time and avoid being absent.
Concern about part-time candidates
While full-time candidates did not show great numbers in absenteeism, Chiloane said the department is more concerned about part-time candidates, who stayed away.
“To this end, we wish to re-emphasise the commitments which candidates vowed to fulfill by having signed the NSC pledge.
“Candidates are discouraged from transgressing their pledge. Candidates must always adhere to exam rules and regulations to maintain the integrity of the examinations.”