Officials probing matric ‘cheats’ attacked
Durban - Education officials investigating matric exam cheating in KwaZulu-Natal have been attacked during violent protests by pupils.
The Basic Education Department revealed on Thursday that at three schools where disciplinary inquiries were being held, officials were locked inside the venues where the hearings were proceeding.
The attacks happened in the past week.
Six cars, most of them rented by the department, were vandalised.
The schools where protests were staged were Mashiyamahle (Ilembe district), Sibanesihle (Umgungundlovu district) and Ntsikakazi (also Umgungundlovu).
Department spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said the hearings had been moved to more secure locations and criminal charges had been laid.
“We will not be intimated and the hearings will go on as scheduled. Those resorting to such violent and drastic measures appear as if they have something to hide. We will work closely with police to have them arrested. These disruptions only serve to delay the inevitable outcome for those who may be found guilty at the end of this process,” Mhlanga said.
The pupils demanded that their results, which were being withheld, be immediately released .
One thousand and seventy-six KwaZulu-Natal pupils have been accused of cheating.
“We have received confessions from a significant number of learners who have indicated that they were assisted by adults invigilating, or by their teachers and principals.
“The department has indicated that honesty will be considered as a positive mitigating factor, and we encourage learners who have information, and wish to confess, to join the many who have already done so.”
The hearings into cheating uncovered last year have also been under way in the Eastern Cape. The process is expected to be finalised at the end of this month.
While the department is willing to grant the pupils some mercy, the same cannot be said for principals, teachers and invigilators found guilty.
Mhlanga said the adults would face “full disciplinary action” because they were meant to be setting a good example to pupils.
“The provisions in the exam regulations stipulate that those found guilty of cheating in the National Senior Certificate exams can be excluded from writing the exams for a period of three years. We are, however, aware that even one year is a long period of time in the life of a child, and while we want to teach these learners a valuable lesson and create a strong deterrent from future participation in such behaviour, we will also be sympathetic in our approach to the learners and in each case the sanction will be determined by the merits of the case.”
The department has put measures in place to prevent a similar blight on the class of 2015. It has admitted it was not adequately prepared for the extent of the copying, and the involvement of teachers and invigilators.
Schools used as exam centres would be categorised according to risk this year. At high-risk centres, provincial education officials would oversee the writing of exams. One way of identifying high-risk centres would be to monitor whether schools had taught the year’s curriculum in its entirety. An official from the national department would monitor matric exams in KwaZulu-Natal and report back to the Pretoria headquarters every week.