Matric cheating could have been prevented – officials

THE group cheating scandal which rocked last year’s matric exams could have been avoided if education officials with intimate knowledge of the accused schools had been allowed to do their jobs.

Senior education officials knew beforehand of the schools that were likely to cheat and wanted to stop it from happening, but were prevented from doing so.

But the education department said exam monitoring was not a free-for-all.

Three officials at the department, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were frustrated by the refusal to release them to do their work.

“We knew the hotspots and the problematic schools. The same schools cheated. If we had been there, we could have prevented this,” one official said.

Another official said the future of a number of pupils at the affected schools had been badly affected.

“Those pupils who were allowed to do this are now facing the music while those who are behind this are most probably walking free,” he said.

Education spokesman Loyiso Pulumani said only carefully selected officials with understanding of the exam environment were included in the monitoring teams.

“The teams are led by examination officials combined with carefully selected officials from Curriculum FET,” he said.

“The department has been working to strengthen the monitoring capacity of our district monitoring teams, who are closer to the schools and can readily reach likely hot spots.”

Pulumani said marking centres were highly restricted and regulated.

“Only accredited officials and subject specialists are allowed to monitor marking centres – it’s certainly not a free-for-all.”

Last year’s matric exams were marred by the group cheating scandal which saw pupils from 58 schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal involved.

Nineteen of the schools were in the Eastern Cape.

Umalusi’s Lucky Ditaunyane said the implicated pupils would be invited to a formal hearing at which they would have the right to representation.

-Bongani Fuzile

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