While pupils who were found guilty of cheating in the 2022 matric exams have been given the harshest sanctions permissible, the teachers who abetted them got away with a slap on the wrist.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga revealed that the findings of the investigation by her department into allegations of cheating in the National Senior Certificate examinations, which involved 1 189 pupils from six provinces, has found the pupils guilty.
“Learners in these cases have been found guilty of engaging in irregular practices to obtain an unfair advantage during the writing of the examination and they have been sanctioned for a maximum period and are prohibited from writing the next three examinations.
“They will only be allowed to write the November 2024 examination, once the sanction period has expired,” Motshekga said in a written response to a question asked by the IFP’s Siphosethu Ngcobo, a member of the national assembly’s portfolio committee on basic education.
Motshekga also told parliament that the pupils had either colluded with one another or were supported by their teachers in obtaining answers to certain questions while the examination was in progress.
She also explained that the sanctions applied to only the specific subjects that they were found to have cheated on.
“The results in those subjects were declared null and void and the candidates received the results of subjects that were not tarnished by any examination irregularity,” she said.
While severe sanctions were imposed on pupils, teachers who colluded with them got away with less punishment. The Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education (Umalusi) said only one principal in Gauteng and two teachers in Eastern Cape were found guilty and sanctioned.
Umalusi spokesperson Biki Lepota said reports received by the council from the department of basic education (DBE) show that some cases are still pending.
“In Eastern Cape, two teachers pleaded guilty and were sanctioned one month without salary and suspended from going to work for a month.
“In Gauteng, the principal who was found implicated in group copying was found guilty and fined three months’ salary,” said Lepota.
“In KwaZulu-Natal, the teachers implicated in group copying were referred to labour relations. In Limpopo, seven cases are still to be finalised.
“In Mpumalanga, we are aware that one teacher has been charged with misconduct and due disciplinary processes are underway.
“The investigation and suspension of teachers are handled in terms of the Employment of Educators Act, and this process is managed by the labour unit of the Mpumalanga department of education, which deals with all cases of educator misconduct.”
Sunday World has established that even though the teachers were found guilty, the South African Council of Education (Sace), the custodian of
teacher accreditation and ethical conduct, has no record of any teachers who have breached the code of ethics.
Sace spokesperson Rusina Nkuna said the council had no record of teachers who were found guilty on charges related to pupils’ cheating in last year’s matric examination.
“Please note that such matter was never reported to Sace,” said Nkuna.
Departmental spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga did not respond to questions sent to him despite repeated reminders to do so.
DA member of the portfolio committee on basic education Baxolile Nodada said he questioned Motshekga on the sanctions for the teachers and has not received any report.
“Consequence management seems to be a foreign language in DBE, as a result children are subjected to poor quality teaching by teachers who are protected by Sadtu (South African Democratic Teachers Union) while providing poor quality education,” he said.