An incident at a Pietermaritzburg school where matric pupils who were set to write English paper 3 were given a Religious Studies exam paper, was due to a “packing error”, and the integrity of the exams was not impacted, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) said.
This comes after concern was raised by the DA about Wednesday’s incident. Dr Imran Keeka, DA KZN spokesperson on Education, said 30 pupils at the school were mistakenly handed the Religious Studies paper, which was due to be written in the afternoon.
“When the error was raised by learners, it is alleged that only 29 of the 30 Religious Studies papers were initially recovered, with the last one only being recovered some time later.”
Keeka said that while not all who received this paper in the morning were writing it in the afternoon, there was always the possibility of the contents being discussed with others.
“The DA will urgently raise this concern with the KZN Education MEC, Mbali Frazer. We expect Frazer to urgently launch a departmental probe into this irregularity and to make the findings public as soon as possible.”
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union provincial secretary, Nomarashiya Caluza, said that it was unfortunate that this could happen when “we know that our province has a track record of smooth examinations”.
“This cannot be regarded as a leak but rather as an issue of human error.
The HOD will have to institute an investigation as to why the Religious Studies paper was released to the school instead of English.”
The National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) KZN chief executive Thirona Moodley said the incident was unfortunate.
“There must be a thorough investigation as to how this has happened.
The integrity of the NSC examination must always be safely guarded.”
DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga, said the incident was caused by a “packing error” in which Religious Studies papers were packed with English Paper 3 papers.
“The papers were given face down to pupils during their reading time and it was quickly established that it was a Religious Studies paper and this was taken away from the pupils. The pupils would have only seen the cover and there was no time for them to read the exam questions.”
Mhlanga said it was not a big issue.
“Religious Studies is not being written at the school. It won’t affect the integrity of the exam.”
In early November, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said there had been no major incidents of cheating reported.
She noted there had been incidents of pupils with crib notes or cellphones.
The exams end on December 6 and results will be released in January.