By Sne Masuku
Durban – ADDED pressure on the class of 2020 as a result of the challenges caused by the global coronavirus pandemic may have opened up opportunities for corrupt activities among pupils, parents and officials as evidenced by a series of exam papers that have been leaked over the past few weeks.
This is the view of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s education expert, Professor Labby Ramrathan, on the recent reports of exam paper leaks.
He said 2020 seemed to be an exceptional year in terms of exam paper leaks and the Covid-19 pandemic. He believed that the added pressure could be attributed to the matric candidates seeking to do well in these highly competitive exams as well as in the challenges of teaching and learning in preparation for the exams brought on by the pandemic.
“Noting that the investigative and prosecutorial processes in the country are very long drawn out, chances of conviction are very low. In this kind of situation, people are taking chances in a high-demand context.”
The leaking of Math Paper 2, which was confirmed by the Department of Basic Education, and the subsequent allegations that Maths Paper 1 and Physical Science Paper 2 were also leaked, has sent shock waves through the community in that if these allegations were found to be true, the integrity of the whole 2020 National Senior Certificate exams may have been compromised.
After the recently launched investigation into the extent of the Maths Paper 2 leak, an investigation into the allegations that some KZN pupils had access to the Maths Paper 1 before it was written was launched last week.
Yesterday another exam paper, this time a copy of what is believed to be Physical Science Paper 2, was doing the rounds on Twitter in a post by a man called @rufus_seopa, hours before the paper was written at 9am.
Those who saw the post said that it made the claims credible, because nobody should actually have access to a PDF copy of the paper, even after it is written, while others questioned whether the paper was genuine or fake.
There were also WhatsApp screen grabs of messages showing that the paper was sent at 5am.
Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the Council of Education Ministers held an urgent meeting to consider the implications of the latest developments with the leak of the Mathematics Paper 2 following reports that Physical Science Paper 2 had been leaked and circulated before the commencement of the examination yesterday morning.
He said the reported leak came after the department asked the Directorate for Priority Crime investigations, The Hawks, to investigate an earlier incident involving Maths last week.
Mhlanga said the investigations are at the advanced stage and details on the progress of the probe will be made public at the right time, while areas of weakness have been identified.
“It’s unfortunate that the people continue to be involved in something like this even though there are dire consequences.
“We condemn in the strongest term the conduct of the persons who undermine the integrity of the examinations because it causes untold stress on the pupils who are looking forward to exiting the schooling system with a pass from an honest examination, not one associated with cheating,” said Motshekga.
KZN Parents Association chairperson Vee Gani said the pressure had been there, considering the fact that schools were closed for a long time.
He said pupils with a lack of resources and who did not have access to learning platforms online were disadvantaged and yet there was equal expectation for them to do well.
He said there had been exam paper leaks before, but should the department confirm that the Maths Paper 1 and the Physical Science Paper 2 were also leaked, this would be the biggest leak the department had ever had.
“Investigations are currently under way and unfortunately at this point we don’t know the extent of the leaks. There may be other papers that were leaked that we are not aware of.
“However, I do not think that the source of these leaks is via the department. I do not think that the department would leak papers in order to influence the matric results, because leaking exam papers compromises the integrity of the exams.
“The leaking of an exam paper benefits some and becomes unfair to others who had worked hard to prepare for the exam. It is, however, important for the department to investigate and find out exactly how their papers were leaked,”- said Gani.
Gani said where there was sufficient evidence, the department should take action against those responsible.
The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) spokesperson, Thirona Moodley, said there could be many reasons behind an exam paper leak, including undermining the exam, which leads to the questioning of the exam’s integrity. “The year has been a challenging and abnormal year.
We want the department to be tougher in its investigations.
“This must be done as soon as possible to prevent further damage. It’s upon the department and the police to find the culprits and prevent further leaks, sooner rather than later,” said Moodley.