South Africa, Cape Town – The integrity of the 2020 matric exams has been called into question after reports of alleged leakages of exam papers spiked, with the Hawks having to investigate the leaks.
Department of Basic Education (DBE) spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the Council of Education Ministers held an urgent meeting this week to consider the implications of the latest developments with the leak of the maths paper 2 and physical science paper 2.
Mhlanga said it occurred following reports that a physical science paper 2 was leaked and circulated before the commencement of the exams on Monday.
He said the reported leak of the science 2 paper came after the department asked the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (Hawks), to investigate an earlier incident involving the maths paper last week.
Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said the leakage of exam papers was not something new as it has happened in the past.
Makaneta said the recent paper leakages could be blamed on unethical conduct by those who were tasked with the responsibility to safeguard the papers.
He said it was a good thing that the Hawks have been roped in to investigate the matter as quality learning was necessary.
“Government should strengthen its capacity to maintain the decorum of the exam sessions for the national senior certificate in order to restore confidence,” he said.
UWC Education Faculty’s deputy dean of research, Rouaan Maarman, said the matric exams are stressful even at the best of times.
But this year, the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic, and subsequent lockdown and closing of schools, laid bare the existing well-documented troubles of the schooling system, while adding a range of new challenges.
Maarman, said the 2020 matrics are writing exams under more scrutiny and stress than previous matric classes – and that raised a number of questions about their performance, and their futures.
The Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi) spokesperson Lucky Ditaunyane said the continuing trend of paper leaks does not augur well for the writing of the 2020 NSC examinations administered by DBE.
Ditaunyane said they hoped that the investigating task team established by DBE, together with the Hawks, would soon get to the bottom of these paper leaks and bring those who are responsible to book.
“Heads of all those who are involved must roll, and justice must take its course.
“Umalusi Council is still waiting for a formal report from the Department of Basic Education regarding the recent leak of physical science paper 2,” he said.
National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa) executive director Basil Manuel said the security around the NSC exams has been very good in the past number of years.
Manuel said it was therefore a grave pity that they have had the leak, but also not surprising, considering the rampant corruption in the country.
“We fully support the DBE and Umalusi in their investigation of the matter.
“For them, however, to refer to a possible rewrite in only the affected provinces or schools, seems premature, because only the investigation will be able to clarify whether this breach is localized or of a broader nature,” he said.