THE Department of Basic Education said it cannot tell quality assurer Umalusi about the extent of the leaks of matric papers because some of the cellphone numbers used on the WhatsApp chat group where the papers were circulated were not registered.. Picture Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).
THE Department of Basic Education said it cannot tell quality assurer Umalusi about the extent of the leaks of matric papers because some of the cellphone numbers used on the WhatsApp chat group where the papers were circulated were not registered.. Picture Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Cellphones used in the matric exam leaks cannot be traced

By Sne Masuku Time of article published Dec 14, 2020

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Durban - THE Department of Basic Education said it cannot tell quality assurer Umalusi about the extent of the leaks of matric papers because some of the cellphone numbers used on the WhatsApp chat group where the papers were circulated were not registered.

Basic Education director general Mathanzima Mweli said the problem was that the department only had access to 71 out of 195 of the cellphone numbers that were used on the chat group and it became difficult to trace the owners of those numbers.

The Pretoria High Court last Friday ruled against the department's decision for all matric pupils to rewrite the Mathematics Paper 2 and Physical Science Paper 2.

This was after several organisations representing matric pupils and the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) lodged an urgent application against the department imposing a rewrite of the two leaked papers.

Mweli said that the department would not challenge the entire court judgment, but suspected that it was difficult for the court to apply its mind to all aspects surrounding the matters, let alone read all the submissions on such short notice.

“The difficulty about the judgement is that it has plunged the education department sector into an unprecedented crisis. As we said in our answering papers, that we could not determine the extent of the leak and this makes it difficult to anticipate what Umalusi’s statement will be regarding this because when we present our report we will be saying what we have been saying all along, that the leak is indeed much wider than we had initially thought."

Mweli said they also established that the leaking source was not only the printing company in the Gauteng province , but also the government printers. “So the whole physical science paper was leaked and it popped up in a school in Tembisa.”

“Because the extent of the leaks could not be determined, we cannot tell Umalusi about the extent of the leaks of these two papers, unlike before when we could confine the leak and get the whole district or circuit to rewrite, this time around we have been restrained by the court from a rewrite which could have been a logical remedy in dealing with this matter.

“If you do not know the extent of the leak, then the logical remedy is a rewrite, but if you know the extent of the leak, you confine the rewrite or you block the results of the pupils who are involved. "

“In this case we do not know the extent of the leak, and there is not going to be a rewrite and, as a result, the credibility and the integrity, the reliability and the fairness of the results is at stake."

Mweli said it was unfair for the matric class of 2020 when the department's analysis indicated that this class could potentially perform better than the previous year and to have this blemish on their results was unfair.

Umalusi spokesperson Lucky Ditaunyane said while they were equally disappointed with the court ruling, they however respected the court's decision.

"We will continue to support the relevant structures in the investigations going forward. At this moment, Umalusi cannot pre-empt the outcome of its own processes regarding the approval of the 2020 National Senior Certificate results because the council needs to implement all its quality assurance processes before a final decision about the credibility and the integrity of the exams can be made.“

Umalusi is expected to announce its report on the national exams on February 15.

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