Maverick Citizen


Umalusi matric irregularities findings — group copying, errors in exam papers heighten concerns

Umalusi matric irregularities findings — group copying, errors in exam papers heighten concerns
Umalusi has stated that 945 exam candidates were involved in group copying, with the majority of cases in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Jaco Marais)

The Department of Basic Education is investigating instances of copying among candidates who wrote the National Senior Certificate examinations.

Copying, errors and poor printing quality are some of the concerns raised by Umalusi chief executive officer Dr Mafu Rakometsi relating to matric exams ahead of the public release of the results on Thursday, 18 January 2024.

Rakometsi told reporters at the media briefing in Pretoria on Monday that they are “deeply concerned” about the detected cases of group copying involving 945 candidates who wrote the National Senior Certificate (matric) examinations in 2023.

“Of this number, 763 cases (80.7%) cases were detected in KwaZulu-Natal and 164 (17.7%) in Mpumalanga,” Rakometsi said.

According to the report submitted, Rakometsi said these are cases where the candidates displayed common answers and, in some cases, the same wrong and right answers.

“These cases are not yet resolved because the numbers are still being verified,” he said.


In relation to printing errors or poor print quality of some of the questions, Rakometsi said:

  • there was an omission of a subscript on the formula of an organic compound in Physical Sciences Paper 2 in Question 2.2, which was for 3 marks;
  • The Physical Sciences Paper 2 in the North-West had missing grid lines in Question 3.5 meant for 6 marks; and
  • The three Civil Technology specialisations (Civil Services, Construction and Woodworking) in both the English and Afrikaans versions had major printing errors in Limpopo.

He said the poor print quality in the Civil Services specialisation affected questions worth 60 marks in the English version and 62 marks in the Afrikaans version.

“In Construction, questions worth 31 marks in the English version and 14 marks in Afrikaans were affected,” Rakometsi said.

The marks affected in the Woodworking specialisation were 22 and 26 for English and Afrikaans respectively.

“Aside from printing quality, we would like to raise translation quality as something that needs careful attention,” Rakometsi added.

Due to the poor quality of translation from English into Afrikaans, he said candidates could not respond to questions 3.2.5 and 3.2.6 worth 3 marks in the Afrikaans version of Geography Paper 1.

“To mitigate the possible impact of these errors on performance of candidates, the questions concerned were excluded from the marking process and the marks achieved upscaled using conversion tables.”

On the other hand, he said it is regrettable that one of the questions in the Mathematical Literacy Paper 1 naively used the words “Mandatory Palestine”.

He said this was caused by the examiners and moderators being unaware of the political connotations of the words.

“Umalusi appreciates the fact that the DBE [Department of Basic Education] issued an apology in this regard.”


Umalusi’s chairperson Professor Yunus Ballim said the DBE is required to block the results of all candidates implicated in irregularities including the candidates who are implicated in the alleged acts of dishonesty, pending the outcome of the DBE investigations and verification by Umalusi.

“Umalusi is concerned about the recurring instances of printing and packaging errors in question papers and the ongoing practice of group copying,” Ballim said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Free State matrics caught with crib notes, phones in examination centres

The DBE, Ballim said, is required to address the directives for compliance and improvement highlighted in the Quality Assurance of Assessment report and submit an improvement plan by 15 March 2024.

He said Umalusi executive committee of council (Exco) commends the DBE for conducting a successful examination on such a large scale.

“Having studied all the evidence presented, Exco of Council concluded that the examinations were administered largely in accordance with the Regulations Pertaining to the Conduct, Administration, and Management of the National Senior Certificate Examinations.”

He said the irregularities identified during the writing and marking of the examinations were not systemic and therefore did not compromise the overall credibility and integrity of the exams.

“Exco of Council therefore approves the release of the DBE November 2023 National Senior Certificate examination results.”

Outstanding matters

Rakometsi said Umalusi is concerned about the unresolved irregularities associated with the previous cycle of examinations, especially in the private college space involving the General Education and Training Certificate: Adult Basic Education and Training (GETC: ABET) examinations.

“We urge the assessment bodies concerned to give this matter the priority that it deserves,” he said. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    That praise singer from the DBE who the Maverick saw fit to publish should chime in on this so us less informed punters can appreciate the nuances and hidden upsides.

  • Vincent Britz says:

    The saying goes “Lead by example” So there should be no doubt in our minds, that our youth of today are looking at our leadership and saying “if they our leadership can lie & cheat there way to the top, so can we”

  • Jan Vos says:

    Great training for when they serve in government one day. Corruption starts at school, it would seem.

  • Coen Gous says:

    Well, what can one say? Many kids of today will be tomorrow’s criminals. Of those being honest, few (percentage wise) will ever make it to higher education. And even there they will find major problems, such has been the drop in educational levels at all levels

  • Stan Han says:

    For 3 marks: Could the ANC run a festive party at a brewery?

  • Jennifer D says:

    Where is the sense of pride in achieving without cheating. Their parents probably gave them advice on how to get around the rules – the South African way – if you can’t make it, lie, cheat, steal. Ethics is not a word – the questions is, will it ever be?

  • M D Fraser says:

    Interesting that the included photo shows all White matriculants. Coincidence, or … ??

  • Geoff Coles says:

    This copying of answers, especially in KZN, must surely be aided by dodgy teachers / SADTU

  • Charles Butcher says:

    Not only have standards bee lowered now we see the system falling apart probably because the teaching profession is “in it for the money” giving students answers for cash ,what else can we expect from an ANC designed system “to elivate black students ” equal to or better than the “white ” students. Such a bunchbof RACIST bastards

    • Stephen Mcbride says:

      “Black” students (after years of continuous neglect) needs should be “elevated”. Smaller classes, more educated teachers. But not by giving them marks but by allowing them to earn it. My biological children went to classes with 25 per class. I teach classes from 43 to 52 per class. Infrastructure inherited way below those of the schools my children went to. Would have loved to send to children to “real” schools but despite our best efforts cannot compete. Even worse in EC and KZN where I also taught.

  • Stephen Mcbride says:

    The learners involved need to get usual punishment BUT the invigilators involved should have the book thrown at them. They enabled and encouraged the learners to do wrong. Principal and Chief Invigilator should be jailed to discourage this scourge to a valid matric certificate in our country

  • Stefan Laing says:

    Students caught cheating should be disqualified from the paper. Yes, consequences are severe, but so too is going through life never learning that your actions have consequences.

  • Johan Nolte says:

    Is anyone surprised? This government doesn’t care about education because then those smarter people will realise who useless this government is. Plus the youth of today is just lazy. Expect a 1st life to be handed to them. The world is f#cked.

  • Bayanda Mnisi says:

    Hy everyone

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


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