Minister warns Grade 12 learners against exam violations

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, has warned Grade 12 learners against committing any transgression during the exams.

Addressing a media briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday, the Minister said the penalty for offences related to examinations are very serious.

“As a learner you can be banned for up to three years from writing the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam and if you are an employee in the system you could be jailed,” Motshekga said.

The Minister’s remarks follows Monday’s incident of the leaked Mathematics Paper 2 in the early hours of the morning, hours before the paper could be written in eight provinces.

“We are very disappointed that a question paper has been leaked and some learners appear to have had access to it before it was written,” she said.

Department of Basic Education Chief Director of National Assessment and Public Examinations Rufus Poliah said the leakage of the paper does not imply that the entire examination credibility has now been compromised.

“An examination system of the magnitude and size of the South African examination system will experience challenges from time to time. ….Despite the challenges the capacity and the responsiveness of the system to detect these challenges and to respond with the requisite speed and rigor will determine the examination credibility.

“There are mechanisms in place to deal with the examination as a whole. We are confident that we will be able to ensure the rest of the exam goes without major problems,” Poliah said.

The department has assured South Africans that the paper leak will be investigated.

The Grade 12 examinations started on 5 November and will end on 15 December 2020.

“This examination is the largest yet with 1 058 699 [candidates]. The exam is taking place in 8 200 exam centres in all provinces with 80 000 invigilators. Two hundred and sixteen question papers are being written with more than 10 million scripts printed,” the Minister said.

About 45 000 markers have been appointed in 180 marking centres. 

“Today is Day 11 of the 30 day examination and up to now 83 papers out of 216 have been written. Logistically all is well except for protests and inclement weather in parts of KwaZulu-Natal,” Motshekga said.

Marking commences on 4 January 2021 with the results being released on 22 February 2021.

“The 2020 academic year will go down as the most challenging, complex and unpredictable. It has required innovation, courage, collaboration, sacrifice and selflessness. I admire the mental strength of our learners in particular and the dedication of our teachers and officials,” the Minister said.

She said initially COVID-19 was a challenge with cases continuing to affect the examination but the collaboration with the Department of Health has helped to allow those infected to write the examination.

“Private invigilators have been appointed to provide where there are challenges. COVID-19 cases remain a concern but our revised safety protocols are helping to manage the impact.

“The exam system is now running with minimum challenges in that regard. We are pleased with the progress made thus far. It seems initial fears and anxiety have now been allayed. We however remain vigilant,” she said.

Challenges experienced during exams

On Wednesday morning, taxi operations in Gauteng came to a standstill; with drivers on strike demanding that government deliver on its COVID-19 relief promises.

“The Gauteng Department of Education has put a backup plan in place for learners and we have allowed late entry into the exam room for those who struggled to get to their schools.

“We have also allowed for candidates who cannot make it to their designated centres to write at their nearest school and provision will be made for extra papers,” Poliah said.

During the exam period, there were also issues with power outages when learners wrote their Computer Applications Technology and Information Technology papers.

“Given our relationship with Eskom we were able to manage this and minimize the disruption and where there were disruptions candidates were moved to alternative venues and the lost time was compensated. All learners for these subjects were able to complete their examinations,” he said.

During protest action in the Western Cape when roads were closed, a number of learners got to school late and they were accommodated.

“All schools were able to write the exam in the Western Cape. Those learners who missed the exam on this day will be able to write a second opportunity examination.

“A phenomenon that we have had previously, that seems to be resurfacing is what we refer to as imposter. An imposter is sometimes referred to as a ghost candidate. Technically what happens during this situation is one other individual or adult decides to write on behalf of the registered candidate,” Poliah said.

Two cases of this nature were identified. In one of the cases the ‘ghost candidate’ was identified on entrance and was apprehended by police. In the second case, the suspect managed to escape.

“There has been a significant reduction in crib notes and that’s a positive sign,” he said. –