Hawks, Basic Education probing maths paper leak, says Motshekga

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga. Picture: Gallo Images/Sowetan/Veli Nhlapo

Angie Motshekga reiterated that the penalties for offences related to examinations were very serious.

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga has confirmed that her department was investigating the circumstances around how the National Senior Certificate (NSC) mathematics paper two was leaked on Monday.

The minister was briefing the media on outcomes of the Council of Education Ministers meeting and the progress of the Combined Matric Examinations (CEM) on Wednesday.

She commended the resilience of both teachers and pupils after the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on teaching and learning. However, she expressed her disappointment over the mathematics paper two being leaked before the paper could be written on Monday morning.

“I can confirm that the leaked paper was the real paper and the department is very disappointed. The department is compiling a report on how the paper was leaked,” she said.

Motshekga said the reports currently indicated that the paper was accessed by groups of learners in eight of the nine provinces.

She further said the Department of Basic Education was not able to determine whether the leaked maths papers would be rewritten as the Hawks were assisting with the investigation.

“The first phase of the investigating task team must be completed by 30 November and the second phase of the world must be completed by 30 January. This will allow for the department to decide if a rewrite is needed,” she said.

The minister reiterated that the penalties for offences related to examinations were very serious.

“A learner can be banned for up to three years from writing the NSC exam and if you are an employee in the system you could be jailed,” she said.

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On Covid-19, Department of Basic Education chief director Rufus Poliah confirmed that 93 pupils had tested positive for the virus during the exams, including 53 from Eastern Cape, 23 from Free State, 10 from Western Cape and seven from Gauteng.

Poliah said approximately three pupils were testing positive for the virus per day.

The department had previously said that if a pupil tested positive for Covid-19, and was deemed fit to write the examination, the pupil would be allowed to write at a different venue and under secure conditions that were in compliance with the examination regulations.

He added that despite the leakage, the entire exam had not been compromised as the department would ensure that the rest of the exams proceed without major problems.

“Although the leakage surfaced in Limpopo or Gauteng, it doesn’t mean that it occurred in the two provinces, but it indicates the locality of access. The department is doubling up its monitoring systems, and is determined to ensure that the remaining papers goes without any glitch of this nature,” he said.

Exams are taking place across 8200 exam centres in all provinces with 80,000 invigilators and 1,058,699 pupils writing.

The marking process – with 45,000 markers in 180 marking centres – would commence on 4 January 2021, with the results being released on 22 February 2021. Schools will reopen on 25 January 2021.

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