For the first time in South Africa’s history, matriculants will sit for a national rewrite of two examination papers after they were leaked.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga made the announcement during a media briefing on Friday where she provided an update on the progress of the 2020 matric examinations.
“Having considered all of these factors, CEM (the Council of Education Ministers) decided that a national rewrite of both mathematics paper 2 and physical sciences paper 2 is necessary.
“It was not an easy decision to take but one which is necessary under the circumstances. We need to work hard to deal with the human factor in the examination system. It is clear that the people responsible for leaking the question papers are adults,” Motshkega said.
The maths paper will be written on 15 December and physical sciences paper 2 will be written on 17 December.
Motshekga said that although the leaks have been a costly exercise, the decision to rewrite was taken to protect the integrity of the exams and follows the establishment of a task team to determine the extent of the leak. Investigations revealed that 195 learners had access to the maths paper 2, which was shared through messaging service WhatsApp.
Basic education’s national assessment and public examinations chief director, Rufus Poliah, said due to the viral spread of information online, it is almost impossible to determine accurately the number of learners that had access to the leaked question papers.
Given the nature of the medium used to leak the paper and the inability to determine the full extent of the leak, quality assurance council Umalusi revoked the credibility of the exams. “Umalusi has concluded that the integrity and credibility of the paper has been irrevocably compromised,” said Poliah.
The business studies exam paper was also rumoured to have been leaked but the department moved swiftly to replace the paper ahead of the exam date and time. Last week, the Hawks arrested a man named Themba Daniel Shikwambana. Hawks spokesman Katlego Mogale had earlier revealed that Shikwambana works for a company contracted by the department of basic education to print this year’s grade 12 examination papers.
Investigations into the leaks are still ongoing with the minster expressing her hope that more arrests will be made. “CEM appreciates the work being done by the directorate for priority crime Investigation, the Hawks. We welcome the arrest that has been made and we hope more arrests will follow. We really need to send a strong message that tampering with national examination is a serious offence.
“The DBE and the provincial education departments 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,” said Motshekga.