An examination-answers syndicate appears to be doing brisk business in the 365 examination centres in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa.
The syndicate specializes in “fraudulently assisting adult matric candidates” with examination answers.
Apparently they have a leak into the exam-questions strong room weeks ahead of the exam dates.
KZN is the only province in SA where the “approved Senior Certificate results for the May/June 2014 exams” have been withheld on the directives of Umalusi, the council for quality assurance in basic education.
Following the detection of “systemic irregularities” in exam scripts in 49 out of 95 centres audited, the national education department instituted investigation into the “extent of irregularities” by drawing a larger sample of scripts from “all the remaining centres”.
The outcome was stunning. The exam-answers syndicate has a long reach. Consequently Umalusi could authorize the release of the May/June results in only 162 of the 365 exam centres in KwaZulu-Natal. Thousands of students who wrote the exam at 203 other centres remain on tenterhooks for now.
“We have taken the decision not to approve the release of results at centres where either gross irregularity were found across subjects, or where the investigation is not yet complete”, said in a statement.
The investigative audit was managed by the KZN Department of Education under the supervision of the Department of Basic Education, while Umalusi monitored the investigation to ensure that it was carried out in a fair and credible manner.
A total 39 subject specialists were commissioned to conduct the investigation.
Fourteen subjects were selected for the audit based on the “disproportionately high” provincial performance in these subjects, compared to the national average, as confirmed by Umalusi.
A DBE spokesman, Elijah Mhlanga, said that candidates had been allowed to take part in fraudulent activities and were bringing crib notes into the exam venue.
He said the irregularities detected included many students who had made the same mistake in questions, and had different handwriting in the same script, raising suspicions of ghost-writing.
“It is unfortunate because candidates were expecting their results a month ago; now many have been compromised because of the fraudulent activities of a few people who tried to undermine the system. KZN is the only province with this problem,” he said.
Mhlanga said the department would “track down” and take action against individuals involved in what appeared to be a province-wide syndicate.
“We do not want the integrity of our security system to be compromised. Matric exams (venues) are a sensitive security environment.”