Pretoria - The Department of Basic Education is appealing a court order that the Limpopo department release the National Senior Certificate results of 172 pupils implicated in a cheating scandal.On Saturday evening the Thoyohandou High Court in Limpopo ruled that the results must be made available within 72 hours.But on Sunday the Department of Basic Education said it was taking on the decision of on appeal."We are launching an appeal with immediate effect in the interest of protecting quality education and the integrity of our examination system. We are gravely concerned about court decisions which undermine our efforts to provide quality education to learners," said department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga."The public can be assured that we do everything in our power and within the ambit of our Constitution and laws to protect quality education and the integrity of our examination system."Potential message of judgmentThe department was worried that if the precedent was set, it would create room for cheating students or schools."The judgment has a potential of sending the wrong message that you can cheat the exams and then go to court to force the department to hand over your results even though you might be guilty."The Thoyohandou court announced its decision after parents of pupils from the New Era College argued that the education department, which initially did not release the results, was prejudicing their children.In court papers, they demanded that the results of other subjects, which were not part of the cheating allegations, be released.The alleged cheating at the college in Malamulele, Vhembe district involved one exam - Mathematics Paper II.It is alleged that pupils from New Era College in Malamulele, Vhembe had access to the question paper distributed by the school owner ahead of examination date.Umalusi instructed the department to withhold the results of pupils at the college pending an investigation by the Hawks and the department's own internal processes.Department investigationLate last year the Hawks arrested New Era College owner Tinyiko Khosa as they suspected he may have orchestrated the leaking and distribution of the paper.During Khosa's bail hearing, the local magistrate's court heard that the paper was tampered with and its front page was removed.Khosa is out on bail and is set to appear in court again on January 31.Mhlanga said the department was disappointed with this weekend's high court ruling."We are extremely disappointed because there's evidence indicating that there [was] wrongdoing and a person was arrested on the matter. There's also evidence that shows learners had access to the examinations question paper before it was written."Mhlanga said the department was confident that their investigation would help root out corruption that could tarnish the credibility of the exams."It must be clear that those who cheat in examinations will be dealt with harshly. The department will explore all possibilities to protect the integrity, image and profile of the National Senior Certificate."