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Durban - The Department of Basic Education is standing firm on their belief that there was mass copying by students of an Ndwedwe high school who wrote their matric exams last year.

This is according to Dr Rufus Poliah, a chief director in the National Department of Basic Education, who responded with papers lodged in the Durban High Court.

Poliah claimed there was clear evidence that the pupils of Mashiyamahle High School were assisted, that in many instances where independent, objective thinking was required, the pupils came up with a common incorrect answer.

Last month, 139 students from the high school brought an urgent application at the Durban High Court against the provincial and national education ministers, insisting that their matric results be released.

The pupils, who are represented by attorney Jayendra Surju, said in their application they were shocked and traumatised when their matric results were held back following claims of cheating.

They claimed they were also subjected to unfair treatment from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education’s investigation into the allegations - which they denied.

The pupils claimed in the court papers that the withholding of their matric results had a knock-on effect in terms of them applying at tertiary institutes.

Education officials have, however, hit back.

Poliah said in his responding affidavit that there were examples that confirm copying took place.

He cited a Mathematics paper 1 and an accounting paper which provided proof of this.

In the maths paper, he said the candidates used a wrong value for a question whereby they made mistakes leading up to their solution, but they all arrived at an answer of R252.99.

In the accounting paper, the pupils were asked to do a calculation and commonly came up with the answer of R18 600.

However, the answer should have been R8 600, Poliah said.

He added that they received a tip-off from a whistle-blower who informed them there were allegations of mass copying at the school, and that there had been collusion between the principal, invigilators and pupils.

The department took steps of placing a monitor at the school during the examination period, in order to curb the alleged mass copying.

This, however, proved to be a difficult undertaking as the examination at the school was written simultaneously in more than one classroom.

Poliah said Mashiyamahle High School was not singled out as there were 22 schools in total implicated in mass copying in the province.

The decision to withhold the results was only taken after close analysis of the scripts and extensive interviews were done as part of the investigations.

On behalf of the pupils, Surju has indicated he will respond to the department and ask for the matter to be set down for a hearing.

Daily News