The Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training said all assessment bodies have presented their plans to it.
Umalusi, which quality assures all exit point examinations in general and further education (NQF levels 1-4), says approximately 668 612 full-time and 146 997 part-time candidates will sit for the 2016 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.
These examinations will take place at more than 7 000 centres across the country and will be marked by over 38 000 markers across the provinces.
The Independent Examinations Board has registered 11 821 full-time candidates across the country and 34 part-time candidates in 230 examination centres.
Umalusi expressed regret at last year’s final NSC examinations, which were marred by incidents of paper leaks in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
“The safety and security of examination materials has obviously become one of our focal points in the preparations for the 2016 examinations. As we did in the past two years, drastic measures will be taken against all learners, educators and departmental officials, who are found guilty of copying, paper leakages and other forms of cheating.”
Umalusi, however, said it is satisfied with preparations for the exams and is confident that the general education system is adequately prepared to run the assessments successfully.
“Umalusi is also pleased to report that most provinces have improved their systems based on the concerns raised by Umalusi previously. However, this does not mean that Umalusi does not have some outstanding concerns regarding the upcoming national examinations.”
Among the concerns raised by Umalusi is the status of storage facilities in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape, especially at nodal distribution points.
The provinces still need to address the issue of staff shortages.
“Subsequently, Umalusi has recommended to the Department of Basic Education that intensive monitoring of these provinces needs to be instituted to mitigate possible unintended consequences of this situation. For its part, Umalusi will also intensify its monitoring where it deems it necessary to do so.”
Umalusi said while it is aware of new efforts by people to try to cheat the system, it strives to improve its systems so that gaps where such incidents could occur can be closed.
“At every stage during the conduct and administration of exit point examinations, Umalusi applies rigorous quality assurance methods to gauge the readiness of assessment bodies to administer fair and credible examinations without systemic irregularities.”
All examination papers are moderated and approved by Umalusi before they can be written by the learners. The internal assessments that take place in schools also fall within Umalusi's mandate, and these assessments are monitored, learners' tasks are moderated, and the final marks that contribute to the overall results are also statistically moderated to ensure consistency and reliability.
As the quality assurer for this important sector of the South African education system, Umalusi's role is to monitor the public assessment bodies - Department of Basic Education and Department of Higher Education and Training - the accredited private assessment bodies, Independent Examinations Board (IEB) and the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI).