WhatsApp 'cheat sheet' for matrics even had wrong answers

Unauthorised or early access to exam papers flagged in two provinces

18 January 2022 - 12:52
By Prega Govender
A new trend of unauthorised and early access to question papers was detected at specific exam centres in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Image: 123RF A new trend of unauthorised and early access to question papers was detected at specific exam centres in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Exam quality assurer Umalusi has found that matric pupils in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal had “unauthorised or early access” to the life sciences and agricultural sciences question papers.

Announcing the approval of the release of the 2021 matric results on Tuesday, the chairperson of Umalusi’s council, Prof John Volmink, said the results of the implicated pupils will be blocked until they are cleared of any wrongdoing.

In another instance, he said a pupil at a school in Gauteng and one in KwaZulu-Natal, who were in possession of the life sciences paper on the day they were written, admitted they were part of a WhatsApp group.

He said some of the answers for the agricultural sciences paper distributed on the WhatsApp group were wrong “but it didn’t make the deed less serious”.

However, “there were not many learners who were affected”.

He said question papers were stored at district offices or a similar place and then taken to distribution centres from where principals of schools collected them on the day the papers were written.

“No paper can be opened before 8.30am. Unfortunately, a new trend of unauthorised and early access to question papers was detected at specific exam centres in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.”

He said it was worrying when people entrusted with the responsibility of administering and managing the examinations “are the very ones who compromise the integrity of the examinations under a misguided pretext of wanting to ‘help learners’.’’

“Umalusi will be working hard with the department of basic education to ensure that the necessary measures are taken to stamp out this practice and to bring those responsible to book.”

Granting approval to the department of basic education to release the results, Volmink said apart from some exam irregularities identified during the writing and marking of the exams, there were no systematic or widespread irregularities reported that might have compromised the credibility and integrity of the November 2021 exams.

The unauthorised and early access to question papers was the subject of an ongoing investigation “so we don’t want to give away too much detail and information”.

“Umalusi can still nullify the results of candidates who are found guilty of having benefited from early access to question papers.”

He said that of the 67 subjects presented for standardisation by the department of basic education, pupils’ actual mark or raw mark were accepted in 35 subjects. Marks were adjusted upwards in 28 subjects and downwards in four subjects.

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