‘Irregularities did not compromise matric exams integrity’

Umalusi CEO Dr Mafu Rakometsi and Umalusi Council chairperson Professor Yunus Ballim. Picture Umalusi/Facebook

Umalusi CEO Dr Mafu Rakometsi and Umalusi Council chairperson Professor Yunus Ballim. Picture Umalusi/Facebook

Published Jan 16, 2024


While associated with the previous cycle of exams are yet to be resolved, at least 945 candidates were involved in cheating incidents during the 2023 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams.

In spite of the exam irregularities and printing errors in questions, the quality-assurance body, Umalusi gave the green light for the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to release the results on Thursday for public schools.

According to Umalusi, the irregularities identified were not systemic and therefore did not compromise the overall credibility and integrity of the exams which 898 520 full-time and part-time candidates sat for.

Umalusi CEO Mafu Rakometsi, joined by fellow senior colleagues, made the announcement during a media briefing on Monday.

According to Rakometsi, cheating incidents were rife in KwaZulu-Natal which reported 763 cases, followed by 164 cases detected in Mpumalanga.

“While there has been a decline in the number of irregularities, Umalusi is deeply concerned about the detected cases of group copying involving 945 candidates who wrote the NSC examinations in 2023.

“According to the report submitted, these are cases where the candidates displayed common answers and, in some cases, same wrong and right answers.

These cases are not yet resolved because the numbers are still being verified.

“We urge the assessment bodies concerned to give this matter the priority that it deserves,” said Rakometsi.

Other areas of concern included that some candidates wrote at unaccredited private centres or institutions, poor quality of language translations and printing errors or poor print quality in some of the question papers.

“To mitigate the possible impact of these errors on performance of candidates, the questions concerned were excluded from the marking process and the marks achieved upscaled using conversion tables,” said Rakometsi.

Umalusi chairperson Professor Yunus Ballim said in respect of identified irregularities, the DBE was required to block the results of all candidates implicated in the irregularities including candidates involved in alleged acts of dishonesty pending the outcome of DBE investigations and verification by Umalusi.

“Umalusi is concerned about the recurring instances of printing and packaging errors in question papers and the ongoing practice of group copying.

“The DBE is required to address the directives for compliance and improvement highlighted in the Quality Assurance of Assessment report and submit an improvement plan by March 15,2024,” said Ballim.

Naptosa executive director Basil Manuel expressed concern that irregularity cases were taking a long time to be resolved saying this meant there were learners sitting without results.

“This means there are lives of learners who are on hold while the merits of their cases are being determined.

“Even if some did indeed commit the irregularities it cannot take an entire year to come to a conclusion about the matters.

“We do, however, welcome that the Umalusi has allowed that results will be released,” said Manuel.

SA Democratic Teachers Union national spokesperson Nomusa Cembi shared the same sentiments over the slow space in resolving previous cases and urged the DBE to urgently deal with the matter.

“We believe the results of thousands of learners should be released despite the cases and Sadtu urges DBE to deal with these cases as a matter of urgency so that the lives of these learners should not be adversely affected,” she said.

Cape Times