Multiple Exam Opportunity: What’s the Deal?

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.  

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