South Africa, Cape Town – Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has ordered an audit into the entire matric exam system. She revealed this when responding in writing to parliamentary questions from EFF MP Dumisani Mthenjane on whether she had investigated the circumstances leading to the leaks of the 2020 matric question papers.
He also wanted to know the measures she has put in place to ensure that the leaking of exam papers did not take place again and the actions she took to ensure that the integrity of the 2020 matric exams was not undermined because of the leaks.
In November, the department confirmed that there was an exam paper leak of Maths Paper 2 a few hours before it was written. A week later, Physical Sciences Paper 2 was leaked and circulated before the start of the exam.
This necessitated a probe to establish the extent of the leaks so as to determine if a rewrite of the two papers was necessary.
In her response, Motshekga said the department had established a National Investigation Team to determine the extent of the spread of the leak, the origin of the leak, and measures to ensure the credibility of the 2020 exam and prevent a future occurrence.
“The investigation is ongoing and the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation has also been engaged and they are at an advanced stage of the investigation,” she said.
The Hawks have since arrested a man, Themba Daniel Shikwambana, 31, who was granted bail and is set to reappear in court in January.
Motshekga said that in ensuring there was no paper leak in the future, the department has begun with an audit of the entire value chain from the origination of question papers to the delivery of question papers to exam centres.
“The purpose of this audit is to establish the weak points in the system with a view to strengthening these weak points and the security will be doubled at all points in the system.
“The Department of Basic Education will also appoint an independent investigator to conduct a comprehensive audit of the entire examination system, inclusive of the information technology systems used to evaluate what new technologies can be utilised in future years to improve and modernise the exam system,” she said.
The minister said the department had taken a decision to rewrite Maths Paper2 and Physical Science Paper 2 after quality assurance agency Umalusi indicated, based on a preliminary investigation report, that these two question papers had been compromised.
But the Council of Education Ministers had since taken a decision not to call for the papers to be rewritten. This was after the Pretoria High Court reviewed and set aside the department’s initial decision when some pupils, Sadtu and AfriForum challenged it.
Judge Norman Davis found the decision irregular and unlawful, and reviewed and set it aside.
“I further conclude that the learners have a right to have their exam papers marked in terms of regulation 45, which provide for such right, irrespective of whatever proposal or certifications may be made by Umalusi, now or in the future,” Judge Davis said.
“In the exercise of my discretion, I find no cogent reason to depart from the general principle that costs should follow the event. This should include the costs of the curiae who made a useful contribution to the debate of the matters,” he added.
Head of department Mathanzima Mweli has said they would not appeal the judgment, saying they wanted to release pupils from the pain of waiting for another judgment.
Mweli had confirmed that they could not determine the extent of the leak, but the latest developments pointed to the fact that the leak was much wider than initially thought.