WATCH | Umalusi gives matric results the all-clear despite probe into early access to exam papers

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  • Umalusi has flagged cases of pupils having early access to exam papers.
  • The irregularities in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng are under investigation.
  • The quality assurance body has approved the release of the matric results.

Quality assurance body Umalusi is investigating incidents of pupils having early access to matric exam papers ahead of writing them.

At a briefing on Tuesday, Umalusi council chairperson Dr John Volmink revealed that there had been incidents of this nature in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng during the 2021 matric exams. He described it as a "worrying trend" where pupils had had unauthorised or early access to examination papers.

Two pupils at a school in Gauteng have been implicated, as well as one in KwaZulu-Natal. It appeared that the papers were shared on WhatsApp groups.

The irregularities had taken place ahead of the writing of life sciences and agricultural sciences.

Volmink said exam papers were kept at district offices and taken to distribution centres on the day of writing, where they were collected by school principals. Principals and teachers were not permitted to open the exam papers earlier than 30 minutes before the exam sessions.

He said:

There was unfortunately early access to papers detected at assessment centres in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

"It's very worrying when people in authority, entrusted with managing examinations, are the very ones who are compromising the integrity of the examination process."

Volmink said Umalusi will be working with the Department of Basic Education to "stamp out" the irregularities and "bring those responsible to book".

No 'systemic irregularities'

Incidents of group copying had also been detected, said Umalusi CEO Dr Mafu Rakometsi. However, these were less than in previous years.

Volmink said details of the irregularities would not be shared at the briefing as the incidents were under investigation. However, the results of pupils implicated will be blocked, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Despite these irregularities, Umalusi found there had been no "systemic irregularities" that had affected the integrity of the National Senior Certificate for 2021 and thus approved the release of the results.

More than 800 000 pupils wrote exams under the department in 67 subjects. The marks submitted by the department remained unchanged in 35 subjects (52%). Marks were adjusted upward for 28 subjects (48%), including physical science, history, tourism, accounting and English Home Language.

Marks were adjusted downward for four subjects – technical maths, isiNdebele Home Language, Siswati Home Language and Sesotho Second Language.

In 2020, 74% of the subjects retained unadjusted marks.

At Independent Examinations Board (IEB) schools, more than 13 000 pupils wrote 65 subjects. Of those subjects, marks for 44 (68%) remained unadjusted. The marks for 14 subjects (21%) were adjusted upward, including for accounting, Afrikaans First Additional Language, economics, history and physical science.

Seven subjects (11%) were adjusted downward, including English First Additional Language, geography and tourism.


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