Equalising Grade 12 home language examination papers in a multilingual education department : the case of Sesotho and English
Mahlasela, Johannes Tsietsi
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The South African Department of Basic Education (DBE) originates from a divided and unequal past. Many educational reforms and transformations took place after the fall of apartheid in 1994. These reforms and transformations were sometimes not adequate and left many unequal circumstances for South African learners. One of the areas that scholars have expressed uneasiness about, is the results of Grade 12 home language examinations. The main concern seems to be that these results do not reflect the same outcomes for different language groups in this multilingual education department. It was found that Grade 12 home language question papers do not assess the same constructs and are not comparable in terms of reliability and validity. In addition, there was a concern that African home language exam papers were ‘easier’ than, for example, Afrikaans home language and English home language. The DBE instituted several ministerial committees to address this issue and several interventions were implemented. The Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) attempted to address this issue by declaring that all 11 official languages of the DBE should be based on the principle of high knowledge and high skill. The Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Training (Umalusi) commissioned a project in 2013 in which a strategy was sought to entrench this principle. This study is part of the project that sought to address this issue. One of the strategies which this project proposes is a situation whereby 20% of the total of 300 marks of the Grade 12 home language examination papers should consist of a Test of Advanced Language Ability (TALA). TALA is designed according to the principles of the Inter-institutional Centre for Language Development and Assessment (ICELDA) academic literacy test, called Test of Academic Literacy Levels (TALL).
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