Hawks, DBE in hunt for source of exam leak
Johannesburg - The Department of Basic Education is on the hunt for the source of the matric Maths Paper 2 leak that has affected eight provinces.
The department said officials became aware of the leak when a Gauteng university student who helps matric candidates prepare for exams sent the paper to spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga at 1.37am on Monday – a few hours before the assessment commenced. The student had received the paper from the pupils he mentors and they wanted assistance on how to answer some questions.
At first, it was believed the leak was confined to Limpopo and Gauteng, but so far all provinces except Free State have confirmed that some pupils had access to the question paper.
Candidates are believed to have been part of WhatsApp groups through which the paper was distributed. Chief director of national assessments, Dr Rufus Poliah, yesterday said that in some schools pupils had made their principals aware of the leak before the exam.
Poliah said: “We are dealing with electronic distribution, and this means where a WhatsApp surface does not make it the source of the leak. We can confirm at this point that there are pockets of pupils who are part of social media groups that have had access to the question paper in eight of the nine provinces.
“We are going to solicit the expertise of a forensic IT company to trace the origin of the WhatsApps. We will do an audit of selected exam sites because the questions appeared on WhatsApp but originated from a storage or distribution point.”
Poliah said the National Examinations Irregularity Committee had started investigating the leak and its reach.
The team is expected to release their first report by November 30 in case the leak is extensive and candidates have to rewrite the exam. Their final report will be completed by January 30.
Some of the ways that the department is going to try to catch cheating pupils include the use of investigative auditors when marking the exams to try to see which candidates might have had access to the paper.
Statistical analysis will also be used to see discrepancies in candidates’ marks in the Paper 1 and 2 assessments and their preparatory exam results.
The investigators will also look into the credibility of the exam in light of the leak and what improvements can be made to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said they were disappointed and embarrassed by the leak.
She said the issue was no longer an educational issue but a police matter. The Hawks are investigating and candidates who are found to have cheated might be banned from writing matric for three years, in addition to facing criminal charges.