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Leaking of matric papers did not compromise overall integrity of exams – dept

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“Full extent of leaks may never be known, but investigations have shown that widespread leaks did not occur”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga briefs South Africans on the country’s readiness to start the 2021 academic year. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

AN INVESTIGATION by the National Investigations Task Team (NITT) has found that although matric exam papers for mathematics and physics were leaked, the overall 2020 examinations were not compromised.

This is the outcome of an extensive investigation conducted by the NITT, which is based within the Department of Basic Education. The two exam papers were leaked days before they were scheduled to take place in November.

Hugh Amoore, the chair of NITT, said the investigations were extensive and found that the two papers were leaked through WhatsApp groups. He said the full extent of the leaks may never be known, but investigations have shown that widespread leaks did not occur.

During the probe, investigators spoke to learners who were involved in the incident. A marking analysis was conducted through the marking of papers and also a statistical comparison of the previous years.

The first paper leak was for mathematics paper 2 and was shared in a WhatsApp group of about 236 learners. The investigation found that a learner had access to the paper and shared two questions from that paper within the WhatsApp group, seeking assistance with the answers.

This mathematics group was for high-achieving learners.

The physical science paper 2 reached about 62 learners through screenshots that were sent.

Amoore said investigations of marking showed that some of the marks achieved by learners who were in the WhatsApp group were high, but he added that there was no evidence that the learners benefited from prior access to the leaked papers.

He said statistical analysis had not shown an unusual performance in the two subjects compared to previous years. The investigation also found there was no evidence of collusion amongst the candidates, Amoore added.

So far, in relation to the leaks, a worker at a Government Printing Works Services centre was found in possession of question papers, which included maths paper 2. This individual has been arrested.

Amoore said the investigations team had presented the findings and recommendations to the department and Umalusi – the institution responsible for certifying the results.

Amoore was confident that the integrity of the overall examinations was not compromised along with that of maths paper 2 and physical science paper 2. The leaks were only limited to a small group of learners.

In the recommendations, the NITT has recommended several scenarios which include withholding results of learners while further investigations take place, or issuing the results while investigations take place.

Amoore also noted that processes at the Government Printing Works centre will need to be changed as they were susceptible to security breaches.

Political Bureau