- Sadtu and Naptosa have welcomed a High Court finding that matrics do not have to rewrite two leaked final papers.Â
- They also hope that there won’t be a rush to appeal the judgment.Â
- But the education department is studying the judgment.Â Â
Matric pupils have been saved from a ‘grave injustice’, said the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) following a judgment that matrics do not have to rewrite two leaked final papers.
“Sanity prevailed” in the court judgment that set aside the requirement that matrics should rewrite the Mathematics II and Physical Science II exam papers, after the discovery that they had been leaked, Naptosa said.
According to Naptosa, the decision to make everybody rewrite those subjects was an overreaction. It commended the court for its “sober consideration of the facts”.
However, the union hoped there wouldn’t be a rush to appeal.
“We call on them to accept the judgment and to rather expend their energies on seeing that those responsible for the leaks be brought to justice and to leave it to the Irregularities Committee to deal with the matter,” said Naptosa.
READ Matrics will not have to rewrite leaked exam papers, court rules
The union also appealed to Umalusi to accept the judgment and not let the “limited” leaks cloud their decision to certify the integrity of the 2020 national senior certificate (NSC) exams.
Sadtu felt it would have been unfair to make the pupils rewrite because the investigation had not been concluded.
“Based on the initial investigation which showed that the number of learners who may have seen the paper are less than 195 out of the 339 000 who wrote the maths paper, which translates to less than 0.06% and an even lower percentage in respect of the physical science paper, there was no basis for a national rewrite,” Sadtu said in a statement.
“Our children are tired and need to be protected from any trauma which might have long-term psychological effects. We urge the learners to focus on the last few subjects, rest and recharge as they prepare to further their studies at institutions of higher learning next year.”
Sadtu urged commentators and analysts to be fair and to inspire the pupils, instead of casting doubt on their futures.
Meanwhile, the DA called on the Department of Basic Education to respect the court’s decision to avoid further delays and disruptions to the 2020 academic year.
The opposition party said it was shocked that in the court papers, the education department could not say who was responsible for the decision.
In its opinion, the investigation into the source of the leak was not adequate.
“This issue should have been addressed immediately after the leak was identified.Â If it had been, further leaks could have been prevented and the extent could have been better identified which could have avoided the need for a national rewrite.”
It has urged the department to work with quality assurer Umalusi to ensure that the integrity of the 2020 NSC is protected.
Following a short investigation, a preliminary report into the leaks, and an ultimatum by Umalusi that said it would not recognise the results of the two papers if they were not rewritten, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that the two exams should be taken again.
The announcement left pupils devastated. Many had already handed in their textbooks, got rid of their notes, or travelled to family who lived away from their schools for the longer-than-usual holiday.
The minister decision led to the litigation. Several pupils, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, and lobby group AfriForum approached the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to have the decision set aside.
On Friday, Judge Norman Davis found that the decision to have matric pupils rewrite the exams was unlawful, finding that the minister was not authorised to make such a call.
Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga later tweeted that the department was studying the judgment.
Meanwhile, a man working for a company that was contracted to print the exam papers was arrested in the course of the investigation into the leak. Themba Daniel Shikwambana appeared in court in connection with the Mathematics II leak and was released on bail.
He will return to court on 27 January.