EDITORIAL | Let’s hope exam paper leak doesn’t open the ...

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EDITORIAL | Let’s hope exam paper leak doesn’t open the floodgates

Education department is in damage control mode and cannot afford another question mark over its credibility

Editorial

The National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams has experienced its biggest paper leak in recent years and it has major implications — not only for matriculants who need good maths marks to get into university, but also for the overall credibility of the examinations. The basic education department revealed on Wednesday that the leak of the maths paper 2 in the final matric exams was much wider than initially believed. Preliminary investigations showed it had been obtained by pupils in eight provinces with only the Free State not affected.

Dr Rufus Poliah, chief director for national assessment and public examinations, said it remained unclear how the leak happened. “I stand here with a deep sense of disappointment in terms of where we find ourselves,” he said. The department had done everything “humanly possible” to ensure the credibility of the 2020 examinations. “You can plan and put systems in place. However, one aspect you have no control over is the human element,” he said.

To an extent, he is right. And to be fair, this is the first final matric paper that has leaked in the past three years. Leaks in 2015 and 2016 in Giyani and the Vhembe districts in Limpopo were largely contained. But as the department very well knows, performance is judged by your last report card. The leak of the maths paper could have disastrous consequences, especially with it being spread across eight provinces. It is also disconcerting that there was no mention at Wednesday’s media briefing about a possible breach of maths paper 1 also being investigated, as was reported by Sunday Times Daily earlier this week...

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