NATIONAL NEWS - Despite legal challenges by civil organisations and teacher unions at the Gauteng North High Court in Pretoria, the Department of Education said it was going forward with its matric re-write next week.
On Wednesday, the court postponed urgent legal application contesting the department’s decision by civil rights organisation AfriForum and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) to be heard simultaneously on Thursday morning.
Speaking to the Rekord on Wednesday, the department’s spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said it was continuing with preparations to have pupils re-write physical science and mathematics papers that were leaked last month.
“Those papers are going to be re-written next week until a judge says this must not happen. No one at this point has ordered the department not to go ahead with the re-write, so we are continuing with preparations as we doubt there will be a judgement soon.”
The mathematics paper was set to be written on Tuesday 15 December and physical sciences, paper two, to be written on Thursday 17 December, announced by the department last week.
This announcement was met with some backlash.
Sadtu believed the decision to have all learners doing mathematics and physical science rewrite was unfair and “premature” because the investigation has not been concluded.
Mhlanga said the re-write was to protect the credibility of the national senior certificate.
“Remember, we do not certify our results; Umalusi (examinations quality assurer) does that. If we do not proceed now with the exam, then in January Umalusi says they are not going to sign off the results because they were tainted and then the children would have to re-write them next year.”
The department came to the decision following preliminary report findings that the viral spread of information on the cyber networks made it impossible to accurately identify the number of learners that had access to the leaked question papers.
“We do not know how many people got the papers. However, we do know that the leaked papers were available in all the provinces. People say the department must not let everyone re-write them, but only those implicated. But we will still be taken to court if we pick certain groups. They will be asking ‘why us’ – that’s the situation we would be facing.”
He said that the national re-write also served as a second chance to many matriculants that might have not done their best the first time writing.
Mhlanga said the department was working with the Hawks arrest those implicated of wrongdoing in leaking the papers.
Meanwhile, National Teachers’ Union (Natu) spokesperson Alan Thompson said the union did not embark on a legal contestation because a court bid might take time.
“Should courts rule against the union, it would have wasted matriculants’ time to prepare the exams,” he said.