Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, on Wednesday 18 November 2020, held a media briefing on the progress of the matric exams. While the minister commented on how many candidates wrote and the leakage of the Maths Paper 2, the Chief Director of National Assessment and Public Examinations Rufus Poliah had much more to say.
Poliah listed some of the challenges which the department faced in the last 11 days of the matric exams. One challenge, in particular, was that of imposters or “ghost candidates”.
Although Poliah said the leakage of the Maths Paper 2 does not spell doom and gloom for examination credibility, he did make mention of other challenges. Poliah said there were power outages in the writing of CAT and IT but given their relationship with Eskom, they were able to manage the issue and minimise the disruption.
He also commented on protest action in the Western Cape and that resulted in road closures which led to some learners getting to school late for the matric exams. One learner also walked out of an exam room with a script, while other learners wrote the home language English paper instead of the first additional language English paper.
However, one more challenge which Poliah labelled as a “phenomenon” resurfaced. He said it is the topic of “imposters” or “ghost candidates”.
“An imposter is sometimes referred to as a ‘ghost candidate’ and technically what happens in this situation is where one other individual or adult decides to write on behalf of the registered candidate,” he said.
“But in both cases, they were identified immediately on entry into the examination room because they have to produce their ID. In fact, one of them was apprehended and arrested by the police and the other one managed to disappear but we’ve reported that to the police,” he added.
Motshekga commended the resilience of both teachers and learners saying that one million people writing matric exams was a major achievement despite multiple challenges such as the pandemic and lockdown. “This examination is the largest yet with 1 058 699,” said Motshekga.
“The exam started in earnest on 5 November and will end on 15 December 2020. The exam is taking in 8 200 exam centres in all provinces with 80,000 invigilators. Two hundred and sixteen question papers are being written with more than 10 million scripts printed. The sector appointed 45 000 markers in 180 marking centres,” she added.
Marking of matric exams commences on 4 January 2021 with the results being released on 22 February 2021, which would make it the first time schools reopen before the matric results are released.
“We are however very disappointed that a question paper has been leaked and some learners appear to have had access to it before it was written. Before I conclude, let me say that the penalty for offences related to examinations are very serious. As a learner, you can be banned for up to three years from writing the NSC exam and if you are an employee in the system you could be jailed,” she added.