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Cheating in exams 'simply not worth it', Western Cape education MEC warns matrics

Serious repercussions 'completely outweigh any perceived benefit to cheating'

Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schäfer has warned matrics against cheating. File photo.
Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schäfer has warned matrics against cheating. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Die Burger/Jaco Marais

Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schäfer has issued a stern warning to matric candidates thinking of cheating in the upcoming exams.

In a statement on Thursday, Schäfer said “a serious National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam leak almost led to the rewriting of certain matric exams across the country” last year. She said this illustrates the damage leaking and cheating can do.

Schäfer said cheating could have “far-reaching consequences not just for the learners involved but many others too”.

“We cannot afford a repeat of such a situation this year,” she said.

“Fortunately, there were no incidents of mass cheating in the Western Cape during the November NSC 2020 exams. There were, however, 17 candidates in our province who were disqualified for cheating – seven for possession of unauthorised material (crib notes) and 10 for possession of unauthorised electronic equipment (cellphones).

“Being caught cheating has very serious repercussions for the learner. If found guilty, they could be disqualified from the exam, and even be barred from writing one to three subsequent examinations.

“Criminal prosecution could be instituted, should it be found that the candidate is involved in the leakage of any examination question paper.

“These consequences completely outweigh any perceived benefit to cheating. It is simply not worth it.”

Schäfer said all candidates and their parents are required to sign a commitment which details the rules of the exams and spells out what can happen if they are not followed.

“It also explains that learners who are aware of irregular activities occurring (including leaked papers or questions), but fail to report it, will be considered to have colluded in the cheating. The candidates then sign the NSC Exam Pledge, a voluntary pledge to behave responsibly during the exams and to follow the rules,” she said.

“Candidates caught with unauthorised material, cellphones or engaging in any other irregular behaviour can thus not claim that they didn’t know this was against the rules, or to have ‘forgotten’ they were carrying unauthorised materials or devices.

“Our matrics are old enough to take responsibility for their actions, and old enough to make sure that they follow the rules of the exams.

“Parents too have a responsibility to discuss these matters with their children and make sure that they understand that infringements will have serious consequences.”

Schäfer added: “Our learners have worked extremely hard to get to this point – this is not the time to put this all at risk by breaking the rules. Let’s all work together to make sure our province’s exams proceed smoothly and fairly.”