Everything that went wrong with the 2023 Matric Exams

  • Group copying and errors in exam questions plagued the 2023 matric exams.
  • But as there was no exam leak that took place, education watchdog Umalusi says that the exams went relatively well.
  • The final results of the 2023 matric exams will be released on Thursday 18th January 2023.

South Africa’s national education quality watchdog Umalusi has given the all-clear for the Department of Basic Education to release the results of the 2023 Matric Exams on 18th January 2023. The educational body made the announcement on Monday, while briefing the media on the outcomes of the November/December exams.

“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 [NSC] examinations,” explained Umalusi council chairperson Professor Yunus Ballim.

“EXCO of Council therefore approves the release of the DBE November 2023 [NSC] examination results,” he added.

More than 890 000 fulltime and part time candidates sat for the NSC matric exams at the end of 2023. In total 1.2 million learners sat for the end-year exams across public and private schools, Umalusi said in October last year.

Ballim told the media that despite a series of irregularities seen during the exams, these issues “were not systemic and therefore did not compromise the overall credibility and integrity.” Only those learners implicated in any irregularity will have their end-year results blocked, otherwise, most other matrics will see if they passed or failed on the 19th.

Umalusi further stated that of the irregularities, it was the recurring instances of printing and packaging errors in question papers and the ongoing practice of group copying – where learners help each other during an exam – that concerned the body the most.

“The DBE is required to address the directors for compliance and improvement highlighted in the quality assurance of assessment report and to submit an improvement plan by the 15th of March 2024,” Ballim said.

Other irregularities picked up by the Department of Basic Education and Umalusi include:

  • A printing error that saw a three mark question in Physical Sciences Paper 2 made to not count,
  • The same paper was affected with missing grid lines in a question worth six marks, solely in the North West,
  • Major printing errors squandered questions of certain papers in Limpopo, including a 60 mark question in civil service, 31 and 14 mark questions in construction, and a 20 mark question in woodworking. These questions were excluded from marking,
  • Poor translation quality affected two questions worth three marks in the Afrikaans-translated version paper of Geography Paper 1,
  • “Cultural and political errors” in the Mathematical Literacy Paper 1 and Mandarin Paper 1 were also acknowledged,
  • Finally, that was an instance where at least 64 candidates who wrote the isiZulu First Additional Language Paper 2 were not informed that new poems and short stories would be introduced for the examinations and therefore the candidates prepared based on outdated set works.

Umalusi says that since these particular questions were affected, their marks were stricken. Instead, the marks that learners did achieve on these respective papers were upscaled to match the difference.

“Not withstanding that, Umalusi urges all role players to put in stringent measures to prevent the recurrence of errors like these. This is because being fair to candidates means, among other things, being able to foresee and address any factor that may result in candidates performing poorly due to no fault of their own,” said Umalusi CEO Dr Mafu Rakometsi during the briefing.

In terms of copying, KwaZulu-Natal’s matrics lead South Africa with the most cases at 763, while 164 cases were detected in Mpumalanga. These two provinces made up the vast majority of the total 945 cases of alleged group copying.

Despite these challenges, Umalusi says that there was no leakage of matric exam papers for 2023, the second year in a row that this was achieved. During the 2021 matric exams, learners in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng got early access to the life science and agricultural sciences papers.

“Umalusi is extremely encouraged by the fact that there were no detected cases of paper leakages. No papers were leaked in these examinations and…the examinations have therefore not been compromised in terms of their credibility and integrity,” enthused Rakometsi.

During the 2022 matric exams, the Sunday Times alleged that around 370 learners from Mpumalanga were paying teachers to share answers for the mathematics and physical science exams over a WhatsApp group.

To find out where to receive your 2023 matric exams results online, click here.

[Source – SA News]

[Image – Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash]


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