The 2020 combined matric examination was not compromised, while the leaks were only limited to a small group.
This is according to the Department of Basic Education’s National Investigations Task Team (NITT) Chairperson, Hugh Amoore, who was leading the probe into the leaks of the 2020 matric Mathematics and Physical Science Papers 2, last year.
Speaking on Sunday, Amoore said while the full extent of the leak may never be known, the investigation found that widespread access to the question papers did not occur.
This was based on the investigative marking, interviews and statistical analysis, he said in his presentation.
“There has been no compromise to the integrity of the 2020 combined examination as a whole and the integrity of the Mathematics Paper 2 and Physical Science Paper 2 has not compromised the overall results.”
He said establishing the source of the leak was critical which involved the audit of the distribution chain, the investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) and a forensic private investigator.
The purpose of the investigation was to establish the extent of the leaks, determine the source of a security breach, identify candidates who had prior access to the leaked question papers and make recommendations on the credibility of the examinations.
Amoore confirmed that an employee from a printing company contracted by one province has been arrested and appeared in court and will return in March.
However, the second source of the leaked paper showed that the paper was printed at the Government’s Printing Works, of which the matter is in the hands of the Hawks.
“It is of the utmost importance that the case against the person accused of stealing from one of the province’s processes be pursued to the conclusion and the investigation into the leak related to the Government Printing Works be finalised and the process be purposed to conclude.”
Meanwhile, Amoore said it was comforting that there were no breaches during the storage and distribution of the papers in question by the department.
According to the findings, 236 candidates, who are mostly top achievers, were allegedly involved in the Mathematics question paper sent via a WhatsApp group.
Of these, 135 learners belonged to a chat group where one of the candidates sent two sets of questions weighing five marks each asking for help in solving the problems.
“This was after 10 pm, Sunday, 15 November for the exam that would be written the following morning on Monday.”
Meanwhile, the other 101 learners were in other chat groups, where either the full paper was distributed or set questions were leaked.
However, according to Amoore, only 62 learners are believed to have had access to the Physical Science question paper.
“Further investigations show that the leaks were limited to very small numbers.”
Investigative and statistical marking
The investigative marking to identify unusual patterns to establish any collusion, revealed no evidence to suggest candidates benefited from prior access to the question paper or sub-questions, while some candidates need further investigation.
The department also embarked on statistical marking, done to indicate the pattern of usual performance in Mathematics or Physical Science Papers 1 compared to Paper 2.
The team compared the results dating back to 2016 to look at how years compared against each other.
He said there was no evidence of an unusual pattern, but only two candidates where upper “standardised residual” for Mathematics was identified.
Meanwhile, there was no distinction in Physical Science.
No evidence of collusion
The National Examinations Irregularities Committee (NEIC) that instituted the investigation, has concluded that the 2020-combined examination was not compromised based on the evidence collected through the investigation and recommendations.
NEIC Chairperson, Advocate Luvuyo Bono, said they have already studied the report and are satisfied.
“It appears that the candidates have shown they had done the work individually and that there was no evidence of collusion and that the leak had really come out or spread through a WhatsApp message.”
The Committee has since accepted the report and said it was happy with the findings.
Amoore had described the National Senior Certificate (NSC) as a flagship qualification.
“It’s critical at the exit from schooling in Grade 12 and it’s critical that its credibility and integrity is maintained.”
Meanwhile, he said it was worth noting that one million candidates sat down for the combined matric examination in the context of COVID-19.
“We had a very successful administration in the exams, but it needs to be accepted that the examination was marred by the leaks of Mathematics Paper 2 and Physical Sciences Paper 2 question papers.”
The team has since divided the categories into sections and recommended that those in group C and D results will be locked, while results will be released in A and B, while E will be released pending the school investigation.
He said the report was presented to Umalusi on Friday and the Council will make its decision that will be announced on Monday.