Minister assures SA of credible matric exams

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pretoria - The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has assured South Africans that the 2009 Senior Certificate Examinations will be credible.

"I also have two kids in matric and I am as concerned as any parent. But I can assure the nation that there is no risk [to] the credibility of the examination for the class of 2009," said the minister, speaking at her office on Friday.

She said the necessary steps had been taken by the department to ensure the integrity of the matric exams.

This comes as exam question papers were leaked in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

Two learners and a teacher were arrested in Nelspruit on Wednesday after they were allegedly found in possession of Mathematics Papers 1 and 2, Physical Science Papers 1 and 2 and an Accounting paper.

They were not asked to plead and granted bail when they appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Investigations by the South African Police Services have confirmed that the leaked papers in Mpumalanga were indeed those set for the 2009 exams, while the one in KwaZulu-Natal appeared to be an old paper.

However, Acting Director General in the Department, Penny Vinjevold, said the department had backup question papers ready and that the provinces were working hard to make sure that the new papers reached all schools.

She said the papers that had been leaked would not be written.

Vinjevold said that it was a criminal activity to leak papers because it meant that someone had broken the laws and policies put in place by the department.

She commended the Mpumalanga Department of Education for acting quickly and decisively in the matter, adding that security measures had been put in place in all nine provinces.

Meanwhile, Motshekga said she was concerned at threats by the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) to disrupt the exams if the decision to dock salaries of teachers who participated in the 2007 strike was not reversed.

"This is the worst time to face this as a department. We will use any power we have, even political, to dissuade SADTU not to do this. We have to act decisively as possible."

She said she would be engaging with the SADTU provincial leadership and that the Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy was doing all she could to manage the situation.