Possible breach of matric exam security investigated

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pretoria - The Gauteng Department of Education has launched an investigation into the possibility of a breach in security involving the Physical Science matric exam paper at a high school in Soweto.

The potential breach occurred last Friday when an invigilator opened a specially enlarged Physical Science examination paper that had been specially requested for a partially-sighted candidate.

The invigilator saw that the individually-packed partially-sighted learner's paper was a Physical Science II question paper, instead of Physical Science I paper which all the other learners were writing.

The invigilator then sealed the paper and personally returned it to the Gauteng distribution centre.

Charles Phahlane, spokesperson for Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy, said that on the basis of the facts before the department there was nothing to suggest that the contents of the Physical Science II paper were seen by any learner at the school.

"All candidates, including the partially-sighted candidate, continued to write the Physical Science I paper with no further problems, all candidates also wrote the Physical Science II paper on Monday," explained Phahlane on Wednesday.

However, to protect the integrity of the matric examination, the department has taken various steps, including tasking Ramathe Fivaz Forensic and Investigative Accounting Services to conduct a detailed investigation.

"Their brief is to ascertain how this incident arose and what steps, if any, need to be taken to further protect the integrity of the matric examinations," he said.

The Forensic Company is contracted to the provincial department as external investigators of irregularities arising from the matric examinations.

The department has also quarantined the scripts for Physical Science papers I and II for the concerned school for further investigation. A provincial official to act as a chief invigilator at the school has been appointed to further strengthen the examinations process.

Phahlane emphasised that the department was satisfied that the incident was an individual and isolated case which did not affect the integrity of the science question papers as a whole.

However, it had instituted the investigation to maintain public confidence in the matric examination process and to prevent future occurrences of such incidents.

"The Department of Basic Education is aware of the incident and is satisfied with the steps that the provincial department has taken to deal with the matter and the integrity of the examinations," said Phahlane.