Desperate matric exam cheats

2010-10-31 12:04

The desperation of unprepared matriculants knows no bounds.

They will even hire ghost writers to sit the exams for them.

That was the case in KwaZulu-Natal last year.

A Department of Basic Education (DBE) investigation into a Mandeni, KwaZulu-Natal educator who allegedly ran a ghostwriting scheme hit a brick wall, however, when the whistleblower refused to co-operate.

The whistleblower, whose name is known to City Press, paid a teacher R1 400 to arrange for two other learners to ghost-write her accounting and economics exams.

It was not a success: her results showed she failed in both subjects.

She demanded a refund, and when the teacher refused she called President Jacob Zuma’s hotline.

A high-ranking official in the DBE exams unit said the department became powerless to do anything when the whistleblower bowed out at the last minute.

“We had an appointment to meet with her, but as soon as we mentioned the police, she chickened out,” the official said.

The whistleblower told City Press she was not the only one who had used ghost writers. She claimed the teacher running the ­alleged scheme had been paid ­anything up to R5?000.

Unprepared learners can be ­creative in avoiding their rendezvous with matric exam papers.

Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, DBE’s head of exams, mentioned a few examples of past attempts:

»? Bomb threats were a favourite in affluent areas of Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal;

»? Ghost writers needed to impersonate the pupils and so had to ­borrow their IDs; and

»? Collusion between officials and candidates had occurred. For a fee, the officials would write the exam on behalf of a candidate.

Sishi said although these incidents were the result of under­prepared learners, their schools ­also had to shoulder the blame.

Although the first week of matric exams this year had gone smoothly, Sishi said the DBE had introduced new measures to stop ­cheaters in their tracks.

A provincial exam irregularity committee had been established, including a mini court – similar to those established during the Soccer World Cup – for Gauteng.

A state attorney would be involved and parents would be permitted to bring lawyers to defend their children.

Forensic experts would also be involved where there were doubts about handwriting on a script.

Already, a KZN principal has been suspended as a chief invigilator.

On Wednesday the principal confessed to having removed a question paper from the exam room and writing answers on it.

Mbali Thusi, KZN education ­department spokesperson, said: “The principal acknowledged that he knew he could not take the ­question paper outside the writing room while the examination was under way, let alone provide ­answers to it.”

He was nabbed by exam monitors when they visited JE Ndlovu Secondary School in KwaMashu, north of Durban.

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