Matric exam cheating worries Umalusi

Cheating was reported in different centres that administered exams for private and public school pupils.

Cheating was reported in different centres that administered exams for private and public school pupils.

Published Jan 17, 2023


Cape Town - Education quality assurance council Umalusi expressed its concern on Monday that irregularities during National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams are worsening.

However, Umalusi is working to find innovative and advanced ways to strengthen the system.

Cheating was reported in different centres that administered exams for private and public school pupils.

Some cases have been resolved while others are pending due to further investigations being conducted. These include cases where pupils were assisted during the exam, with two cases reported in the Eastern Cape, four in KwaZulu-Natal and two in the North West.

Group copying was reported at five centres in the Eastern Cape with 52 pupils involved; one centre in the Free State with 14 pupils; two centres in Gauteng with six pupils, two centres in KZN with 118 pupils involved and a whopping 58 centres in Mpumalanga with 1 289 pupils involved in a WhatsApp group.

“The list is long. I can go on and on reading reported irregularities the whole day. It’s getting worse, people are getting desperate. We are not going to allow this to just run because it will affect the currency of the qualification.

“Different forms of cheating were uncovered in some centres during the exams. These include candidates found in possession of crib notes and cellphones, sharing answers via WhatsApp groups; imposters were found in the examination rooms; some answer scripts had different handwritings,” chief officer Mafu Rakometsi told a media briefing yesterday where Umalusi gave the green light for the exam results to be released. It also announced that some subject results had to be adjusted.

According to Rakometsi, the results of the pupils involved will be blocked and action will be taken against invigilators and teachers who assisted.

Investigations took time, he said, due to some candidates refusing to co-operate; some not available to account for their actions; and some probes depending on the number of people involved.

Rakometsi said for these reasons time frames of when pending investigations will be concluded cannot be shared.

The DA called on Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to take the public into her confidence regarding progress of the investigation into the matric cheating scandal that reportedly involved teachers and pupils last year.

The November exams were written by a total of 1 222 652 candidates across four assessment bodies.

The Independent Examinations Board (IEB) which administered private school exams is due to release their results on Wednesday and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for public schools on Thursday.

Umalusi Council chairperson professor Yunus Ballim said irregularities identified during the writing and marking of the exams, were not systemic and therefore did not compromise the overall credibility and integrity of the November 2022 National Senior Certificate examinations.”

Errors in papers included History Paper 2 and English for IEB.

The DBE had issues with Maths Paper 2 and Sepedi Home Language Paper 2.

“Problematic questions resulted in marking concessions by the relevant assessment bodies for them to be excluded either entirely or partially from the question papers. There has also been an improvement in mathematics and science intake,” said Ballim.

National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA (Naptosa) executive director Basil Manuel said it was disconcerting that there were people who were simply not abiding by the rules and laws.

“If we cheapen our system such that other people start questioning its worth due to mass copying and teachers who are assisting learners to cheat we are in a very difficult time.

“We join Umalusi in calling for the DBE and law enforcement agencies to start getting rid of the miscreants in the system. It is sad to hear reports of so many teachers who have assisted in the irregularities.”

Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said: “We appeal to Umalusi to up the game and ensure that in future they do quality assurance on time in order to enable the Department of Basic Education to release the results on time. An improvement in maths and science is necessary to produce graduates who will make a meaningful contribution in the mainstream economy of our country.”

Cape Times