Ma­tric exam scan­dal hits Gaut­eng

CityPress - - News - MSINDISI FENGU msindisi.fengu@city­press.co.za

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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