Pretoria – A task team has been set up to investigate how a Life Sciences matric exam paper was leaked in Limpopo, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced on Tuesday.
“At about 6am on Monday morning we received a tip-off as the Department Basic Education that the Life Sciences Paper 2 had been leaked. The DBE was able to verify the information received and confirm that the question paper provided at least an hour before the examination commenced was in fact the official question paper.
“This confirmed a compromise in the question paper,” said the Minister at a media briefing in Limpopo on Tuesday.
Minister Motshekga said subsequently the department, together with provincial Education Department, had set up an investigative task team that will be approved by the Director General, Hubert Mathanzima Mweli.
The terms of reference of the task team will be to establish the source of the security breach as well as the spread of the access to the question paper.
The team will also make recommendations on the credibility of the examination in the district and will also make recommendations on how such a breach can be prevented in the future.
The investigative team will comprise the department, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), Universities South Africa - previously Higher Education South Africa - and Umalusi, said the Minister.
The report from the investigative team will be presented to the Minister and Umalusi.
In addition, an oversight team will work with the provincial examination team to guard the integrity of the question papers that are still to be written.
“The team will ensure that all examination processes relating to the next six weeks are tightly controlled and managed. The DBE will increase its presence in the province through the deployment of additional officials to the province,” said the Minister.
At the moment there are 30 department officials and monitors in the province and they will focus specifically on the locale of the alleged leakage. These officials, together with the monitors, will also cover every district and circuit in the province in the remaining two weeks.
The scripts of the circuit and the schools that are currently under suspicion, together with the examination processes, will be placed under quarantine. This is to ensure that the alleged compromise is limited and does not contaminate the rest of the examination in the district and the province.
These scripts will be subjected to an investigative audit so the candidates that have not had access to the question paper can be isolated from those that are implicated.
“This will ensure that the credibility of the examination in the province as a whole is maintained.
“To assist with the investigations the South African Police Services (SAPS), together with the State Security Agency (SSA), will be brought on board so that the perpetrators can be prosecuted. The National Senior Certificate exams is a legislated examination and is therefore protected by the law.”
The department, said the Minister, will leave no stone unturned in getting to the bottom of the breach.
“The department is intent on investigating and resolving the matter at hand with immediate effect, as well as to ensure that the credibility of the examination in Limpopo province has not been tarnished by this very serious malpractice,” said the department.
Among the possible outcomes of the scale of the leak is that learners at the affected school could be asked to rewrite the exam.
Matrics started the exams on 26 October 2015 with 710 870 candidates sitting for the first examination in English First Additional Language (FAL), English Home Language and English Second Additional Language. - SAnews.gov.za