Act de­ci­sively on cheat­ing pupils

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

THE RE­CENT court rul­ing or­der­ing the De­part­ment of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion to re­lease the re­sults of two Lim­popo schools ac­cused of cheat­ing in their maths 2 pa­per last year is a se­ri­ous in­dict­ment of the de­part­ment’s in­abil­ity to deal ef­fec­tively with group cheat­ing in schools.

Au­thor­i­ties stated that there was ev­i­dence the pa­per was cir­cu­lated among some pupils at the two schools prior to their tak­ing the exam. How­ever, the pupils were still al­lowed to con­tinue with the ex­ams. When the de­part­ment with­held their re­sults, say­ing they were still in­ves­ti­gat­ing the al­leged cheat­ing, the pupils and their par­ents ap­proached the court to or­der the re­lease of the re­sults of other sub­jects not linked to the cheat­ing scan­dal.

It is of con­cern that pupils are not given a strong mes­sage about cheat­ing and the con­se­quences they will face should they do so. When some KwaZulu-Natal ma­tric­u­lants were im­pli­cated in a cheat­ing scan­dal in 2014, the de­part­ment said it would im­pose a three-year ban on the guilty ones.

How­ever, noth­ing hap­pened be­cause the de­part­ment said it could not trace some of the pupils and teach­ers in­volved in the scan­dal. Some pupils who were iden­ti­fied by the de­part­ment re­fused to at­tend the hear­ings on the mat­ter de­spite be­ing or­dered to by the courts. Some of those pupils rewrote their ex­ams, and life con­tin­ues for them.

This then begs the ques­tion: What mea­sures will the de­part­ment put in place to en­sure that it nips group cheat­ing in the bud? The de­part­ment needs to find bet­ter ways of deal­ing with this mat­ter so that there are no loop­holes that will re­sult in the jus­tice sys­tem over­rul­ing it.

It is sad that some pupils put so much ef­fort into their ex­ams and those who cheat are not pun­ished. Th­ese cheat­ing scan­dals will fur­ther dent the im­age of South African ed­u­ca­tion.

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