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Photo: SA News

For the first time in South Africa’s history, matriculants will sit for a national rewrite of two examination papers after they were leaked.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga made the announcement during a media briefing on Friday where she provided an update on the progress of the 2020 matric examinations.

“Having considered all of these factors, CEM [Council of Education Ministers] decided that a national rewrite of both Mathematics Paper 2 and Physical Sciences Paper 2 is necessary.

“It was not an easy decision to take but one which is necessary under the circumstances. We need to work hard to deal with the human factor in the examination system. It is clear that the people responsible for leaking the question papers are adults,” said the Minister on Friday.

Mathematics Paper will be written on Tuesday 15 December 2020 at 14:00, and Physical Sciences Paper 2 will be written on Thursday 17 December 2020 at 09:00.

Motshekga said while the leaks have been a costly exercise, the decision to rewrite was taken to protect the integrity of the examinations and follows the establishment of an Investigations Task Team to determine the extent of the leak.

Investigations revealed that 195 learners had access to the Maths Paper 2, which was shared through messaging service WhatsApp.

The DBE’s National Assessment and Public Examinations Chief Director, Dr Rufus Poliah, said due to the viral spread of information on the cyber networks it is virtually impossible to accurately identify the number of learners that had access to the leaked question papers.

Given the nature of the medium used to leak the paper and the inability to determine the full extent of the leak, quality assurance council Umalusi revoked the credibility of the exams.

“Umalusi has concluded that the integrity and credibility of the paper has been irrevocably compromised,” said Poliah.

The Business Studies exam paper was also rumoured to have been leaked but the department moved swiftly to replace the paper ahead of the exam date and time.

Last week, the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation arrested Themba Daniel Shikwambana.

Hawks’ spokesperson, Colonel Katlego Mogale had earlier revealed that Shikwambana works for a Johannesburg-based company contracted by the Department of Basic Education to print this year’s Grade 12 examination papers.

Investigations into the leaks are still ongoing with the Minster expressing her hope that more arrests will be made.

“The DBE and the PEDs must redouble efforts to prevent leaks in future and to pursue without fear or favour anyone culpable in these leaks or the further distribution of leaked questions or question papers,” said Motshekga.

Nomsa Marchesi MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education welcomed the news, while noting “it is unfortunate that all Matriculants will now have to suffer the consequences of the poor decisions made by a few”.