Matric exams: Umalusi finds ‘group copying’

Results will be withheld in 58 matric examination centres in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape following copying, monitoring body Umalusi said on Tuesday.

Evidence of “group copying” was found in these centres, Umalusi council chairperson Professor John Volmink told reporters in Pretoria. “This is a new phenomenon … Umalusi is very concerned about this trend and takes the view that strong action be taken against those learners and supervisors who have made themselves guilty of these acts of dishonesty. Umalusi will therefore not approve the release of the results of these centres.”

He said an initial basic education department report identified 74 exam centres in KwaZulu-Natal and 43 in the Eastern Cape for auditing. Following a probe, in KwaZulu-Natal 39 centres were implicated in cheating and 19 in the Eastern Cape. 

Volmink said the irregularities did not affect the integrity and credibility of the exams as a whole. KwaZulu-Natal had 1741 examination centres and the Eastern Cape had 924, so the irregularities occurred at two percent of the centres.

“So in the view of Umalusi this number does not compromise the integrity of the examination as a whole in these provinces, or indeed in the country.”

‘Same answers’
When asked how the irregularities were discovered, Umalusi chief executive Mafu Rakometsi said pupils provided the same answers. “These problems were detected at the marking centres … the students are providing the same answers, the same right answers, the same wrong answers. 

“It is clear that there is sharing of notes, it is clear that there is dictation.”

Giving an example, he said whoever gave the dictation to pupils said “go ahead” and the pupils wrote “go ahead” on their answer sheets. He said if pupils wanted to cheat it was the duty of teachers, principals, and supervisors to stop them. 

“It means that the supervisors have allowed it and this situation cannot be tolerated,” he said. The department had told Umalusi the investigation into these centres would be completed by the end of March and that “drastic measures” would be taken to deal with it once and for all, Rakometsi said.

Overall exams fair, credible
Volmink said apart from these incidents the 2014 matric exams, although not perfect, were “fair and credible”. Umalusi was satisfied the examinations were “fair and valid and credible” and it commended the department for “running a successful and credible examination process”. 

Umalusi approved the release of the exam results, written by 550 127 full-time and 138 533 part-time candidates. “Umalusi is satisfied that nothing has compromised the integrity or credibility of the exams as a whole.” 

On November 25, the education department said matric results would be published in newspapers with only pupils’ ID and exam numbers. The decision was made after a task team recommended that the practice of publishing pupils’ names be reviewed. The results would be released next week. – Sapa

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