Matric exam scandal hits Gauteng
A school principal walked into a matric exam centre and allegedly gave pupils the answers to the geography paper 1.
This is what a whistle-blower has alleged to have happened last week at Mpontsheng Secondary School in Katlehong, Gauteng.
The whistle-blower, a concerned parent, made a submission to Umalusi – the organisation responsible for quality assurance of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) matric exam.
This is the first such incident to have been reported to authorities this year. A matric cheating scandal that rocked the country in 2014.
The basic education department – the body responsible for the assessments – distanced itself from a “fake letter” last month that claimed a maths paper had been leaked.
At the time the department denied a question paper had been leaked and urged parents, teachers, pupils and department officials to ignore the letter.
It indicated at the time that, with provincial education departments, it was monitoring the exams on a constant basis to ensure that all went well.
The exams, which started on October 15 are scheduled to end on November 28.
A total of 796 542 candidates are writing the exams across 6 888 exam centres.
Of these 629 141 are full-time candidates and the remaining 167 401 are part time.
The whistle-blower told Umalusi that on Tuesday last week his/her daughter had told the family that the principal, Steven Sihadi, walked into one of the exam centres where grade 12C was writing and gave pupils answers to questions to geography paper 1.
“Pupils were apparently bragging about the incident afterwards. Apparently the principal also told them not to worry about the geography paper 2 either, as he would also help them with that paper. I understand that the principal teaches geography at the school,” the whistle-blower allegedly told Umalusi.
City Press understands that the whistle-blower had asked to remain anonymous so that his/her child would not be victimised at the school.
When City Press visited the school on Wednesday Sihadi declined to comment and referred questions to Gauteng education authorities.
Umalusi spokesperson Lucky Ditaunyane confirmed the complaint had been filed last week.
“Umalusi did receive the information on the alleged incident and informed DBE [the department of basic education] about it.”
Ditaunyane said in terms of the policy regulating the administration and management of national exams, Umalusi did not investigate such incidents.
“Instead, it is the assessment body’s responsibility to investigate alleged irregularities. After the investigation, the assessment body is required to submit a formal report to Umalusi. Based on the outcome of the investigation, Umalusi will adjudicate whether due process was followed. If not, Umalusi can direct the assessment body to conduct further investigations,” Ditaunyane said.
Basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga confirmed that Umalusi had communicated the “alleged incident of support provided to the pupils at the Mpontsheng Secondary School during the writing of geography paper 1”.
Mhlanga said the department had requested the Gauteng education department to investigate the alleged irregularity and to provide the basic education department with a report.
“From the preliminary investigation conducted by the [Gauteng education department] it was apparent that the school principal, in the administration of his normal responsibilities as the chief invigilator, at the inception of the examination, provided candidates with guidance on which questions they should answer.
“The school principal has been relieved of his responsibilities as chief invigilator and the examination is now being managed by a district official.
“Further action has been taken to suspend the teacher on a precautionary basis,” Mhlanga said.
Regulations relating to the conduct, administration and management of the NSC examination prescribes a protocol that must be followed in the case of such irregularities.
“The matter must first be thoroughly investigated by the PED [provincial education department] and a report from this investigation will be presented to the provincial examination irregularities committee and thereafter to the national examinations irregularities committee (NEIC).
“The basic education department will exercise oversight in this investigation. Emanating from the NEIC meeting a recommendation will be made to Umalusi. The NEIC will meet on December 19 2018 to finalise all examination irregularities across the country, emanating from this examination,” he said.
No similar irregularities had been reported in other provinces, he said, adding that if it was established an irregularity had taken place, disciplinary action would be instituted against a principal or teacher found guilty of the offence in accordance with the Employment of Educators Act. The extent of the support provided to pupils would be thoroughly investigated and established and a decision would be made by the basic education department in conjunction with Umalusi.
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