The Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshekga recently gave an update on the progress of the combined matric examination. Motshekga said that it has become necessary for the department on the developments in the basic education sector. She also explained that the department has gone through a very difficult time due to the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result, the matric examinations also came with their own challenges.
The minister said all was going well until the department experienced challenges when the Maths Paper 2 and Physical Science Paper 2 question papers were leaked. She said there were rumours that the Business Studies was also leaked but the department moved swiftly to replace the paper. She said after this, CEM took a decision to implement urgent steps in order to protect examinations but the department will not divulge these measures.
“You will recall that on the 18th of November we held a media briefing and we reported that some of the question papers had been leaked. We announced that an investigation was going to take place. The Investigations Task Team was to establish the extent of the leak so as to determine if a rewrite of the Mathematics P2 and Physical Science Paper 2, is necessary. CEM also expected the Task Team to make recommendations on restoring the credibility of the 2020 examination in the country as a whole and most of all establish the source of the leak,” said Motshekga.
She also said that the CEM convened a special meeting to consider the recommendations of the National Examinations Irregularities Committee (NEIC). Motshekga said that the National Investigation Task Team (NITT) which operates under the auspices of the NEIC, has been tasked to investigate the leakage of Mathematics P2 and Physical Science P2. She said the report of the NEIC was presented to CEM by the chair of the NEIC, Advocate Luvuyo Bono.
According to the minister, CEM considered the preliminary report focusing on the extent of the leakage so that a recommendation can be made on the remedial action to be taken to address the compromise. She said some of the key findings are that the viral spread of information on the cyber networks made it virtually impossible to accurately identify the number of learners that have had access to the leaked question papers.
“We consulted key stakeholders on the matter; from school governing body associations, school principal’s association, teacher unions and the quality assurance agency, UMALUSI. There was convergence on the need to protect the integrity of the examination and to expose the culprits who place the lives of our learners at risk,” said the minister.
“The National Senior Certificate (NSC) is the flagship qualification relating to schooling. Credibility of the NSC examination is of paramount importance. Any lingering doubt relating to the credibility of the NSC examinations must be thoroughly investigated and addressed. Avoiding prior access to the question paper is what all security measures are directed towards,” she added.
Motshekga also said that CEM decided that a national rewrite of both Mathematics Paper 2 and Physical Sciences Paper 2 is necessary. She announced that the Mathematics Paper will be written on Tuesday 15 December 2020 at 14:00, and Physical Sciences Paper 2 will be written on Thursday 17 December 2020 at 09:00.
She said it was not an easy decision to take but one which was necessary under the circumstances. She also said that the department needed to work hard to deal with the human factor in the examination system. Motshekga said it is clear that the people responsible for leaking the question papers are adults. She added that CEM appreciates the work done by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, The Hawks and that the government welcomes the arrest that has been made and hopes that more arrests will follow.
“The DBE and the PEDs must redouble efforts to prevent leaks in future and to pursue without fear or favour anyone culpable in these leaks or the further distribution of leaked questions or question papers. Ladies and gentlemen the coronavirus is still with us. As the year comes to an end, we urge all young people not to engage in year-end or the so-called pens down parties. These can be super-spreader events and can potentially endanger lives. Let us continue to adhere to the protocols; wear your mask, keep social distancing, wash your hands and sanitise. Avoid mass gatherings as much as possible. Stay safe,” she concluded.