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Security beefed up for matric exams after 2020’s question paper leaks

'More stringent measures to curb compromise of the examination integrity and credibility are in place,' says Umalusi. File photo.
'More stringent measures to curb compromise of the examination integrity and credibility are in place,' says Umalusi. File photo.
Image: VELI NHLAPO

As matrics prepare to write the final exams in just under two weeks' time, it emerged that the report of a probe into last year’s question paper leaks has not yet been handed to quality assurance body Umalusi.

CEO Mafu Rakometsi confirmed that they were still awaiting a report by the national investigation task team for consideration.

He was speaking during a briefing on Friday where he announced that approval has been granted to private and public assessment bodies to administer the 2021 end-of-year national exams.

A total of 195 pupils were found to have had access to the maths paper 2 question paper before it was written last year. The physical science paper 2 was also leaked.

Rakometsi said they had not given the department of basic education a deadline to submit the report “because investigations can take any amount of time depending on the complications and ramifications of whatever leads they are getting.

“The matter where candidates’ results have been withheld remains unresolved. They remain in that status and we cannot release the results until the students, who have been implicated, have been cleared.”

He said that once the department had completed its investigations, it would submit a report to Umalusi.

“Based on whatever findings they have, we will be able to make a pronouncement and map the way forward.”

Meanwhile, commenting on the education system’s state of readiness to administer the 2021 exams, Umalusi confirmed that 41,596 markers had been appointed. But there was a shortage of markers in the Northern Cape, North West and Western Cape.

Up until September 13, there were marker shortages in Northern Cape for:

  • history papers 1 and 2;
  • Afrikaans home language papers 1, 2 and 3;
  • technical sciences; and
  • technical maths.

In the North West, up until September 20, there were shortages of markers for:

  • history papers 1 and 2;
  • Afrikaans home language papers 1, 2 and 3;
  • Afrikaans first additional language papers 1, 2 and 3;
  • Afrikaans second additional language papers 1 and 2;
  • English home language papers 1, 2 and 3; and
  • Setswana home language papers 1, 2 and 3.

In the Western Cape, up until September 22, there were marker shortages for:

  • history papers 1 and 2;
  • business studies papers 2;
  • life sciences papers 1 and 2;
  • maths literacy papers 1 and 2;
  • Afrikaans home language papers 1 and 2; and
  • isiXhosa home language papers 1 and 2.

A total of 897,786 candidates registered to write the department’s exams, including 735,786 full-time and 162,109 part-time candidates.

Mary-Louise Madalane, Umalusi senior manager for quality assurance of assessment (school qualifications), said the department had indicated that access control into the building where printing is taking place, as well as the level of security at storage rooms, has been beefed up.

“Confidentiality declaration forms of appointed staff assigned to work in the printing warehouse and packaging of examination papers were signed,” she said.

She said an audit of all exam centres was enforced in 2021, “taking into consideration guidelines issued to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“More stringent measures to curb compromise of the examination integrity and credibility are in place. For example, the deployment of resident monitors to all identified high-risk centres has been initiated.”

Cheating compromises the integrity of our national examination system, which we are mandated to jealously protect as a quality council
Umalusi CEO Mafu Rakometsi

She said some provincial education departments had extended the scope of invigilation and have finalised the appointment of private invigilators to beef up the invigilation.

“The training of monitors is in progress and is planned to be completed at the end of October.”

Madalane said the question papers have been approved, proofread and signed-off and that the first consignments were ready for delivery to the respective storage facilities.

Rakometsi said in light of the last year’s paper leaks, Umalusi issues a stern warning to all pupils and teachers to refrain from all forms of cheating, including paper leakages.

“We berate and condemn this criminal practice with the contempt it deserves. Cheating compromises the integrity of our national examination system, which we are mandated to jealously protect as a quality council,” he said.

The exams start on October 27.

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