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Multiple Exam Opportunity: What’s the Deal?

by Macharia Mahinda

Have you ever heard of the Multiple Exam Opportunity (MEO) and wondered what this refers to?  Well, wonder no more. Even if you haven’t pondered this, knowing about the MEO is pretty important.  Trust us.

The Multiple Exam Opportunity (MEO) is a programme that was developed by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in order to reduce stress and pressure on progressed learners for their final matric examinations.

“A progressed learner refers to a learner who has failed a grade twice, has progressed to the following grade and is given extra supervision and help from teaching staff. The purpose of this is to lower the dropout rate.”

MEO Explained

The MEO is a programme that allows these progressed learners to split their subjects, for the final examination, over the final exam period and the following year’s June exam period. In essence, a learner can write a minimum of three (3) subjects in November and the rest the following year, in June. This gives these progressed learners more time to study and removes the added stress of writing all their exams in a short period of time. This, in turn, increases a progressed learner’s chances of passing.

Hmm, okay…Lend a helping hand.  That makes sense.

MEO: How to Qualify

In order to qualify for the MEO, one must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a progressed learner (according to the definition above)
  • Completed all School-Based Assessment (SBA) requirements in all seven (7) subjects
  • Have attended school regularly – not been absent more than 20 days without valid reason
  • Have written all the prelim examinations
  • Have failed a minimum of three (3) of the prelim examinations
  • One must write a minimum of three (3) examinations in November (excluding Life Orientation) and must complete the remaining examinations the following June

MEO to be cancelled

As great as this sounds, it’s in the pipeline to be scraped.  The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has announced that from 2020 it will no longer be offering the Multiple Exam Opportunity (MEO) programme to learners. This comes after the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) met earlier this year to discuss matters, of which the MEO was one.

The CEM decided that: 

While well-intentioned, the Multiple Examination Opportunity (MEO) is being used by some schools as a gatekeeping mechanism and not for its original intentions”. 

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, said that the MEO was being misused by schools.  Rather than identifying, guiding and assisting struggling learners, schools were neglecting these learners. Motshekga stated that: 

“Instead of assisting vulnerable learners to attain a matric certificate, it was allowing schools to cull learners through this process and not adequately support them through the multiple examination opportunities”

So, if the MEO is being discontinued, what is the way forward for progressed learners?

MEO: the alternative

Although the MEO will be cancelled in the near future, not all hope is lost.

Learners are still presented with the opportunity to apply to rewrite exams in an effort to improve results. This can be done in the year following ‘matriculation’.  Despite the fact that this removes the opportunity to space out the writing of exams, it does give learners the chance to rewrite matric. There are also bridging courses which allows learners to upgrade their marks for specific subjects.  

If you find that you did not pass matric, EduOne is here to help. As with all things in life, sometimes it doesn’t go to plan and we need to regroup.…

The way forward

The DBE has announced that its next step to improve the pass rate and decrease the dropout rate will be to focus on Early Childhood Development. The first way that it aims to do this is to formally legislate Grade R as a formal chink in the chain of the school experience. Thereafter, the DBE intends to implement an increased focus on Robotics from Grade R to Grade 9. The DBE believes that this will improve creativity, critical thinking, and design thinking.

EduConnect 2Cents

The MEO may be up for cancellation, but that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost. Give it your best shot and, if you come up short, you can apply to rewrite the following year!  With an increased focus on Early Childhood Development, more and more learners should arrive at their final examinations ready to crush ‘em!

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