Matric exam cheating scandal exposed — Teachers gave answers on WhatsApp groups

A whistleblower claims that over 370 pupils were involved in a matric exam cheating scandal in Mpumalanga, reports the Sunday Times.

The scandal reportedly included WhatsApp groups on which pupils could pay teachers up to R1,500 to share answers while exams were in session.

One of these WhatsApp groups was allegedly called “Road to Varsity” and provided answers to maths and physical science exam questions.

The whistleblower claimed that over 370 grade 12 students from three Mpumalanga schools were part of the “Road to Varsity” WhatsApp group. There were at least two other similar groups that used subscription fees.

The whistleblower also reported other forms of cheating. This included teachers giving out answers during toilet breaks, passing crib notes to learners in exams, and telling learners to keep a second cell phone in their sock in case they were asked to hand in their first phone.

Elijah Mhlanga, Department of Basic Education spokesperson, said the department’s director-general Mathanzima Mweli has approved the creation of a task team to investigate the allegations.

The department found grounds to act after one teacher posted answers to the Life Science Paper 2 on a WhatsApp group for teachers — seemingly thinking it was one of the paid cheating groups.

The teacher was a deputy chief invigilator at their school and has been suspended, Mhlanga confirmed.

Matric exam controversies

This is not the first time controversy has engulfed South Africa’s matric exams. In 2020, Mathematics Paper 2 was leaked into the public domain.

“Initial indications are that the paper became available in the early parts of Monday morning, hours before the paper could be written,” said the Department of Basic Education.

An employee at the company contracted to print exam papers was later arrested in connection with the leak.

In 2021, Umalusi – the organisation that sets and monitors standards for education and training in South Africa — issued a stern warning about cheating.

“Once again, as we have done in the past, and in light of what transpired in 2020, Umalusi wishes to issue a stern warning to all learners and teachers to refrain from all forms of cheating, including paper leakages,” said Umalusi CEO Mafu Rakometsi.

“We berate and condemn this criminal practice with the contempt it deserves. Cheating compromises the integrity of our national examination system, which we are mandated to jealously protect as a Quality Council.”

Now read: I passed a matric mathematics paper using a free smartphone app

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Matric exam cheating scandal exposed — Teachers gave answers on WhatsApp groups