Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Investigations into matric paper leaks not complete – Umalusi

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Feb 15, 2021

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Johannesburg - Umalusi says the investigations into the leaking of two matric exam papers is not complete, leaving room for the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to block the results of pupils involved in the incidents.

Umalusi, which is the quality assurance body responsible for approving exams, gave a briefing on Monday regarding the 2020 national exams.

The body has officially approved the release of the 2020 national senior certificate (NSC) results for both public schools under the DBE and for the Independent Examination Board, which represents private schools.

Over 1 million pupils sat down for the NSC certificate exams – the largest cohort, due to the June exams being cancelled for other students.

For the IEB ( Independent Examinations Board), over 12 000 pupils sat down for the exams.

Professor John Volmink, chairperson for Umalusi, said the organisation was disappointed and concerned by the leaking of the maths paper 2 and physical science paper 2.

He said even with this, the executive council for the organisation did not find widespread systematic irregularities in the NSC exams and has approved their release. The results will be released next week on Monday.

"Following an extensive investigation by NITT (the National Investigations Task Team), Umalusi can state that we remain concerned and disappointed about the occurrence of these serious irregularities and strong action must be taken on learners and individuals involved.

"The NSC is regarded as a flagship qualification that provides access to post-school education. It is for this reason that stakeholders should ensure it is not comprised," Volmink said.

Volmink said that despite some irregularities, which included a group cheating incident involving 800 pupils, the results were credible.

"Umalusi noted with concern the serious irregularities with paper leaks, however, the executive is satisfied that based on available evidence, there were no systematic irregularities that would have compromised exams. The exams were administered in accordance to adherence to regularities," he said.

Volmink also said that the DBE was required to block the results of learners implicated in cheating incidents and that security should be tightened. He said the organisation was still conducting an investigation related to leaks.

''With regards to maths paper 2 and physical science paper 2, the investigation into the leakage is not yet complete and will continue until finalised," he said.

Volmink said Umalusi was concerned that technology had added an“ extra layer of concern” with regards to the independence of exams. The body has recommended a tightening of security measures.

On Sunday, Hugh Amoore, the chairperson of NITT, said the investigation into the paper leaks was extensive. It was found that the two papers were leaked through WhatsApp groups.

He said the full extent of the leaks may never be known, but investigations have shown that widespread leaks did not occur.

During the probe, investigators spoke to pupils involved in the incident.

The first paper leak was for maths paper 2 and was shared in a WhatsApp group of about 236 pupils.

The physical science paper 2 reached about 62 pupils through the screenshots sent.

Amoore said investigations of marking showed that some of the mark scores of pupils who were in the WhatsApp group were high. He said there was no evidence that the pupils benefited from prior access to the leaked papers.

Statistical analysis had also not shown an unusual performance in the two subjects compared to previous years. The investigation found there was no evidence of collusion among the candidates, Amoore said.

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Political Bureau

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