SOUTH AFRICA, JOHANNESBURG – The Basic Education Department and Department director-general Mathanzima Mweli confirmed at a briefing on the state of readiness for the 2021 academic year earlier than the physical science paper was leaked by the state’s security printing company, Government Printing Works.
The department provided more details on the Hawks investigation into two exam leaks – maths paper two and physical science paper two.
The company deals with the printing of government documents including passports, birth certificates, ID documents and exam materials.
On its website, the Government Printing Works claims a rich history spanning over 124 years of adhering to the overall goal of security printing to prevent forgery, counterfeiting and tampering that could lead to fraud and identify theft.
The department wanted to have a national rewrite after the leaks, but that decision was eventually overturned in court. Meanwhile, officials maintain they did think it through properly and believe the court did not have enough time to apply its mind on the matter.
As to the credibility of results, there’s a plan to conduct investigative marking to root out any pupils who might have cheated.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motsheka has confirmed marking of matric exam papers was set to start on 4 January 2021 after a tumultuous year for the class of 2020. A total of 47 teaching days were lost for the matric pupils sitting this year. It’s yet to be decided whether the ultimate marks will be adjusted as a result.
One person was arrested last month in connection with the theft of the maths paper 2 exams.
Meanwhile, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga also said during the briefing that her department’s main focus for 2021 was to ensure schools were COVID-19 ready, as the pandemic persists.
Concerns still remained on the safety of schools, with personal protective equipment and non-pharmaceutical measures a major need.
Motshekga said these were at the top of her priority list for next year.
“COVID-19 has taught us and forced us to really frog leap and fast track our rollout of information, communication, and technology. We are also focussed on school nutrition and regarding infrastructure – we’ve been meeting weekly under the leadership of the deputy minister just to manage the infrastructure programs.”
Briefing the media earlier, Motshekga acknowledged just how hard the year has been.
“During those difficult times, we lost almost 1,493 teachers. We also lost a number of our workers, we lost a number of district officials and we also lost one of our colleagues – the MEC for Education in the Northern Cape Mac Jack”.