The matric class of 2020 will have to rewrite the maths and physical science papers that were leaked last month, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told reporters at a media briefing held at the Government Communication and Information System office in Pretoria on Friday afternoon.
The two papers, maths paper 2 and physical sciences paper 2, went viral ahead of matriculants sitting for their exams.
The maths paper will be rewritten on December 15 and physical science on December 17.
City Press understands that about 195 pupils have been identified for having had access to the leaked papers.
Motshekga said this was the first time the department had experienced such an incident since 2016, when a maths paper was leaked in Limpopo.
She said the department had also acted swiftly by replacing the business studies paper following rumours that it had been leaked.
Motshekga said the department took the decision for the affected papers to be rewritten following consultations with stakeholders, including Umalusi, the body responsible for quality assurance of matric exams.
“We consulted key stakeholders on the matter, from school governing body associations and school principals’ associations to teachers’ unions and Umalusi. There was convergence on the need to protect the integrity of the examination and to expose the culprits who place the lives of our pupils at risk.
“It was not an easy decision to take, but one which is necessary under the circumstances. We need to work hard to deal with the human factor in the examination system. It is clear that the people responsible for leaking the question papers are adults,” Motshekga said.
On Tuesday, Motshekga said the Council of Education Ministers convened a special meeting that considered the recommendations of the National Examinations Irregularities Committee.
The committee had tasked its section, the national investigation task team, to investigate the leak.
Motshekga said committee chairperson advocate Luvuyo Bono presented their report to the council.
“Council considered the preliminary report, focusing on the extent of the leakage, so that a recommendation can be made on the remedial action to be taken to address the compromise. Some of the key findings are that the viral spread of information on cyber networks made it virtually impossible to accurately identify the number of pupils who had access to the leaked question papers,” she said.
She said a WhatsApp group had been used to circulate some of the papers.
Motshekga said matric was a flagship qualification, whose credibility is of paramount importance.
“Any lingering doubt relating to the credibility of the National Senior Certificate examinations must be thoroughly investigated and addressed. Avoiding prior access to the question paper is what all security measures are directed towards.”
She said the council appreciates the work being done by the Hawks.
“We welcome the arrest that has been made and we hope more arrests will follow. We really need to send a strong message that tampering with [the] national examination is a serious offence. The national department and the provincial education departments must redouble efforts to prevent leaks in future and to pursue, without fear or favour, anyone culpable in these leaks or the further distribution of leaked questions or question papers,” Motshekga said.
Following initial reports of the leaks, Motshekga said the council also took a decision to implement urgent steps to protect the exams.
“It is for that reason that we felt we could not divulge the measures put in place to secure the exams. It has been a costly exercise, but we needed to act fast in the interest of the pupils and the public in general,” she said.
Motshekga would not divulge details relating to the Hawks investigation, saying it was on-going.