While the true extent of the 2020 matric examination leaks might never be known, officials investigating these irregularities are emphatic that the exams have not been compromised.
Speaking on Sunday, Hugh Amoore — chair of the national investigations task team — said that an extensive investigation was done into the leaks of the maths paper 2 and physical sciences paper 2.
“Those conclusions are, in brief, given that spread of the leaked questions was done by WhatsApp. It is a fact that the full extent of the leaks may never be revealed. Any member of any [WhatsApp] group might have forwarded what she or he had seen ... to other people. But based on available evidence at the moment, from investigating marking, statistical analysis and interviews, widespread leaks did not occur,” said Amoore.
He was speaking at a wide-ranging basic education department media briefing, which largely focused on the exam leaks and the state of school readiness for the Covid-hit 2021 school year.
The investigation found that the leak of the two papers came from, first, an employee at a firm contracted to print matric exams and, second, from someone at the Government Printing Works. It was vital, the task team said, that these incidents were thoroughly investigated to their completion.
It was a relief, however, said Amoore, that the basic education department found that there was no security breach in the storage and distribution of the two question papers.
Amoore said that the investigation into the leaked maths paper 2 found that a total of 235 matric pupils were in WhatsApp chat groups where questions from the exam — or the full exam itself — were shared. In the case of physical science paper 2, the exam or parts of the exam were sent to groups with just 62 pupils. However, there was no guarantee that the papers weren't spread beyond these pupils, he said.
“From this evidence, the leaks were limited to a very small numbers of learners,” he said.
From here, full investigations were done into whether there were any patterns that pointed to collusion — and it was found that there was “no evidence” of this.
“What we can say with confidence is that there has been no compromise to the integrity of the 2020 combined exam as a whole. While the integrity of the two papers has been marred ... it has not been compromised overall,” said Amoore.