Officials on high alert over matric fraud

2016-10-23 06:00
Umalusi’s John Volmink

Umalusi’s John Volmink

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All schools in which group copying by pupils occurred in the past two years have been flagged as “high risk” and geared to be closely monitored by education officials in a bid to curb cheating and fraud in matric exams, which started this week.

A total of 677 141 registered full-time and 150 183 part-time candidates will sit for matric exams this year.

An additional 9 216 candidates who wrote last year will rewrite this year.

Based on their previous exposure to fraud and cheating, schools and their examinations and marking centres had been grouped into three categories: low, medium and high risk, said the spokesperson for the department of basic education, Elijah Mhlanga.

“In the normal course of business every school or examination centre assigns its own invigilators. But when a school has been declared high-risk, the province deploys invigilators to be permanently stationed at these schools for the duration of the examination,” Mhlanga explained.

Medium-risk schools are those in which either teachers or pupils were involved in individual misdemeanours. “These are decidedly different from group cheating and fraud [cases],” he said.

Last year, quality assurance body Umalusi reported 26 cases of group copying with KwaZulu-Natal leading the pack with 12 incidents, Mpumalanga with seven, Gauteng with six and one in Limpopo.

Group copying and cheating was worse in 2014 where Umalusi had reported that 58 examination centres in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were implicated in group copying and cheating incidents.

In November last year, City Press also exposed the leaking of Life Sciences examination papers in Limpopo. The leak had also spread to Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

Mhlanga said there were no concerns about leaks this year. “The system is ready, but has not been tested yet.

The exams have begun and the Computer Application Technology exam was written this week. But that was a practical exam, so it would not have leaked.

“The system will be put to the test next week when all pupils will be writing the first English paper. It is only then that we will know whether there was a leak or not.”

Umalusi chairperson Professor John Volmink said:

“The presentation made to Umalusi by the department indicates that all is well. We are particularly happy about the security of question papers. The levels of vigilance are high. We remain vigilant, but we don’t have reasons to be worried.”

However, Umalusi remained concerned with the lack of clarity on the future of “progressed learners” – those who are pushed to the next grade after repeating a grade three times.

The department does not allow pupils to repeat a grade more than three times. Last year, over 50 000 progressed learners sat for the matric exams.

He said the department should decide if it wants to make progressed learners part of the matric class or not.

“We really need to come to an understanding about the future and impact of progressed learners on overall matric results,” Volmink said.

He was also concerned that the National Senior Certificate – which was discontinued in 2008 and was supposed to have been phased out by 2011 – had not been completely eliminated. Some students were still writing it today, he said.

The National Senior Certificate was discontinued in 2008 and was replaced by the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements. However, pupils who had failed in 2008 and previous years were given leeway to write and complete their matric by 2011.

Read more on:    department of basic education  |  elijah mhlanga  |  education  |  fraud

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