DBE sets record straight on matric cheating ruling

The Department of Basic Education says it is perturbed by the interim interdict handed down by the Thohoyandou High Court in Limpopo and it is unable to appeal until the interdict becomes a final order.

The department said this on Wednesday in reaction to an editorial published on the day by The Star newspaper titled Act decisively on cheating pupils.

The department said the editorial is riddled with fictitious assumptions that make it clear the author has not made any attempt or effort to go through the court documents.

It must be noted that the department opposed the interim interdict brought against it by New Era College learners and parents.

We were shocked and disappointed that the judge upheld such an interim interdict considering the evidence and gravity of the charges against the learners, especially when considering the implications for the entire examination system, the department said in a statement.

Learners from the school were implicated in the leaking of Mathematics Paper 2 during the 2016 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.

The department said there is currently no legal recourse it can take except to comply with the court ruling.

The results released to the implicated learners will remain interim until such time they are ratified by Umalusi by way of a certificate.

Investigations and hearings against the implicated learners will continue. If found guilty, they will be subjected to the normal sanctions as prescribed in the regulations.

The department dismissed allegations that it was through loopholes that the judgement was granted as suggested in the editorial. The ruling, it said, was at the discretion of the judge involved.

Last year when we faced a similar court challenge, two different judges came to two different determinations in similar matters. The judge who presided over this matter is the same judge who ruled against us in one of the matters last year.

We are confident that a different judge may come to a different conclusion. Unfortunately we cannot pursue that at this stage due to the fact that the court order is an interim one, said the department.

The department said it plans to follow due process in this matter and will continue to fight for the integrity of the examination system.

The department rebuffed allegations by The Star that it is lenient towards learners who cheat in exams. It said it was heavily criticised when it imposed the three-year maximum ban on those found guilty of cheating in exams.

The department on annual basis strengthens and enhances its processes on the basis of our findings from the previous examinations.

In 2016 we categorised all our exam centres based on their risk profile, and those centres that were classified as high risk were not allowed to conduct the examination and the medium risk centres were subjected to intensive monitoring.

2014 group copying

The department said it is untrue that nothing happened to KwaZulu-Natal learners who were implicated in cheating in 2014. It said the learners could not be traced.

All learners that were guilty of group copying had their results nullified and those that did not present themselves to the hearings were not issued with their final results or their certificates.

This has sent out a strong message in this province and hence there is a significant reduction of such cases in KwaZulu-Natal.

We agree that it is sad that learners who studied for the exams are disadvantaged by those who cheat and seemingly get away with it.

Source: South African Government News Agency