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State Security Agency Enlisted to Counter Matric Exam Irregularities

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

The South African Department of Basic Education has engaged the State Security Agency (SSA) to audit matriculation examination printing sites, in a drive to curtail incidents of cheating and ensure exam integrity.

For the first time, teachers will also have to sign a pledge, traditionally only signed by matric candidates, affirming their commitment to avoiding any irregularities during the exams. This year, the department aims to expand the pledge to educators, to ensure non-complicity in exam misconduct.

The move comes after an expose by the Sunday Times last year, detailing a significant cheating scandal in Mpumalanga where teachers and invigilators allegedly aided students in copying exam papers.

Despite previous incidences of misconduct by principals and invigilators at some schools, Rufus Poliah, the department's chief director for public exams and assessments, informed parliament about their readiness for the upcoming matric exams. He is confident about the lack of question paper leaks for this year's exams due to a robust mechanism in place for identifying instances of group copying during the marking stage.

According to Poliah, an audit of seven printing sites conducted by SSA identified minor concerns that have since been resolved. This has reinforced the Department's confidence in the security of these centres.

Following the debacle in Mpumalanga, the department instilled rigorous measures at centres storing question papers, with schools in Western Cape utilizing a smart locking mechanism to enhance exam paper security.

Every provincial department is now required to adhere to 11 non-negotiables, which include pledges from both pupils and teachers against exam malpractice and stronger advocacy to foster honesty among all stakeholders involved in the examinations.

With regard to enrollment, Maths literacy saw a decline of 23,763 students from the previous year to stand at 436,945 this year. Equally, the number of students opting for geography diminished by 21,643.

The strict measures put in place are intended to improve the quality of education and the credibility of the matric exams. The education department remains expectant that the results set to be released to students on January 19th next year would reflect these efforts.

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