‘Untrained person did tests on pupils’

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Psychologist Anton Dreyer at the Health Professions Council of South Africa hearing. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi

Pretoria - When Gauteng psychologist Anton Dreyer allowed an unregistered person to conduct psychological tests on high school pupils, he was infringing on the intellectual property of the professionals whose job was to conducting those tests.

His actions were tantamount to putting the profession into disrepute, and as such he should stand before his professional body and explain how and why he did it, the Health Professions Council of SA’s (HPCSA) advocate Meshack Mapolisa said.

“He worked with a flawed system and compromised the subject and career choices of the students he tested,” the pro forma complainant said on Thursday.

He was presenting his heads of argument to a committee set up by the HPCSA to look into the allegations of misconduct by the psychologist, who apparently conducted the tests on no fewer than 10 000 pupils a year. Dreyer was hauled before the professional body in 2012, for allowing an unregistered Adelle du Plessis to conduct psychometric tests in a number of Gauteng high schools as part of a programme to assess the pupils’ subject choices and to guide them as they went through to Grade 12.

When he filed the complaint with the HPCSA, Philip Prinsloo said he had observed the professional conduct of Du Plessis over nine years, during which time he had picked up stark differences in how she conducted the tests, in comparison with other psychologists.

He said she spoke too fast and didn’t allow them a chance to absorb and understand. She would also start asking questions and then, without giving them the chance to respond, would give them the answers and move on to the next page.

Those tests would then be handed over to Dreyer, who marked them and compiled reports that were eventually submitted to the body which processed them.

Mapolisa’s argument on Thursday was that Dreyer produced estimates based on invalid scores, failing in his duty as the accounting officer for the project, and the man tasked with the duty of ensuring that pupils were properly assessed.

“I ask that the committee find him guilty, or risk failing this noble profession by allowing others to disregard the rules and regulations guarding it.”

In Dreyer’s defence, his lawyer asked for a dismissal of the case since his client had not known that du Plessis was not registered.

“The body he used provided substantial training, and he was allowed to get assistance from a third party, especially if it was one he thought he could trust,” the defence lawyer said.

There had never been an incident of the agency sending an untrained person, he argued, saying: “The veracity of some of these charges have no basis, so we ask that he be discharged.”

Mapolisa asked the committee to disregard the defence’s application for dismissal, saying: “The pro forma complainant has presented a prima facie case, and presented evidence to support it.”

He asked that Dreyer take the stand to explain how he had allowed the tests to be run by someone who had no knowledge of the required techniques. “He needs to tell us the circumstances under which she was contracted, the relationship between him and du Plessis and how they operated,” Mapolisa said.

Dreyer is expected to come back before the committee on March 26 for further proceedings.

[email protected]

@mzmakhubu

Pretoria News


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