COVID-19 and lockdown have thrown the 2020 academic year into disarray, and while many schools in the country have welcomed back learners, there is still the issue of those in Grade 12 to consider and their Matric results in particular.

To that end Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, confirmed earlier this week that Universities South Africa has agreed to extend the 2020 academic year to the end of February 2021.

This in an effort to assist learners who will eagerly be awaiting their Matric results, which will be released far later than usual due to COVID-19’s disruptive effect.

As such, the hope is that this approach does not compromise those Matric students who will be scrambling to get acceptance into a tertiary institution next year, with the 2021 academic programmes starting in March or April, depending on the institution.

“On 24 August this year, our Director-General (Mathanzima) Mweli met with Universities South Africa, which is the body that regulates admissions to higher education institutions, and they indicated that universities will be extending the 2020 academic year to the end of February next year,” explains Motshekga.

“So while the opening of universities is not universal, we are certain that when we issue (Matric) results on 23 February next year, we will not be disadvantaging learners because most universities will start their 2021 academic year in March or April next year,” she added.

While it is pleasing to see the Department of Basic Education take these steps, that still leaves very little time for students wanting to apply for their necessary qualification. As such, it remains to be seen just how the application and admission process will cope with these constrained timelines.

There is also the issue of how COVID-19, lockdown and a less than ideal learning environment will impact the pass rate and quality of the Matric results in general.

Either way, the odds keep on stacking up against 2020’s Matric students.

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