Leaked matric exam papers: Relief for pupils as court sets aside education department’s decision

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Education’s national spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says the ruling could have far-reaching consequences. Picture: Jason Boud
Education’s national spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says the ruling could have far-reaching consequences. Picture: Jason Boud

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Like many matric pupils across the country, Lawrence Manaka, a Grade 12 pupil at JB Matabane Senior Secondary School in Ivory Park, Gauteng, was relieved that he does not have to rewrite the maths and physical science exam papers after the court set aside the decision on Friday.

The Pretoria High Court ruled in favour of AfriForum, the SA Democratic Teachers Unions (Sadtu) as well as several matric pupils, that the decision made by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to rewrite the leaked mathematics 2 and physical science 2 was invalid and unlawful.

Read: Students threaten to boycott matric rewrite after papers leaked

Manaka said he was over the moon after the ruling because he had spent a lot of time preparing for the exams which left him exhausted.

“I am really relieved because I had spent quite a lot of time preparing for the exams and I was not looking forward to writing again. I am done writing with all my other subjects so for me to go back again and start studying for something I had prepared for was not ideal because there is so much pressure,” he said.

We urge the department to now focus on arresting the guilty parties to ensure that the integrity of the exams is beyond reproach.
AfriForum’s adviser on education rights, Natasha Venter

Manaka said he hoped that Umalusi, the quality assurance body, would not challenge the court decision because he was confident of passing after the effort he put in preparing for the exams.

“If the work I put in was enough then everything will fall into place,” he said.

Willie Spies, a lawyer for AfriForum, said he was absolutely delighted by the judgment.

“This judgment shows that good hard working people can still win the fight for justice. We are looking forward to the rest of this process and we are wishing every matric pupil a good holiday,” said Spies.

Pending finalisation of the investigations, the certification of these two subjects will remain abeyance.
Education’s national spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga

AfriForum’s adviser on education rights, Natasha Venter, said the court ruling meant that no matric pupil had to take the supplementary exam.

“AfriForum welcomes the court finding and considers it not only as a victory for the almost 400 000 matric pupils who would have been disadvantaged by minister Motshekga’s decision. It is also a victory against the department’s unfair, arbitrary and one-sided decision.

“We urge the department to now focus on arresting the guilty parties to ensure that the integrity of the exams is beyond reproach,” said Venter.

She said AfriForum’s application was based on the department’s own regulations that “determine that if any irregularities did not arise from the action of the candidate [taking the exam] and if the candidate did not benefit from it”.

Education’s national spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga was not available for comment on Friday. But earlier he had said that if the court set aside the exams rewrites, this could have far-reaching consequences as pupils might have to forfeit the academic year.

Read: ‘Matric exam rewrites could cost students an extra academic year’ – Mhlanga

“Should the decision to rewrite the two papers be set aside, it will mean that the ongoing investigation will be completed months from now. Pending finalisation of the investigations, the certification of these two subjects will remain abeyance.

“That will bring about that these few hundred thousand pupils, some of which may wish to enrol at higher education institutions, or utilise the results of these subjects for whatever purpose, will not be able to do so,” he said on Thursday.


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Gcina Ntsaluba 

Journalist

+27 11 713 9001
gcina.ntsaluba@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
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