News : 'All systems go' for matrics, says Umalusi

Three years after widespread problems with matric exam papers there is still "concern" about leaks in Mpumalanga.

Vijayen Naidoo, senior manager of Umalusi, which is responsible for quality control for the Department of Basic Education, said yesterday there is "always a weak link when you have a disgruntled employee".

He was referring to the fact that the department took over administration of matric exams from the province, which has been plagued by serious matric irregularities.

"There is a concern [about] putting a team of experts in place when there are still [departmental officials] operational in the province," he said.

"You have to ensure a degree of buy-in."

Last year, two maths papers, two science papers and an accounting paper had to be reset because of leaks in the province.

In 2008, results were withheld because of numerous administrative failures in the province. Some students were still waiting for their results as late as this year.

The province was South Africa's poorest performing last year, with only 47.9% of matrics passing.

Naidoo was speaking at a press conference yesterday at which Umalusi announced its readiness for the exams, which start on Monday.

Umalusi CEO Mafu Rakometsi said it was "all systems go" for the exams. He said Umalusi had moderated and approved all the exam papers, and had assessed the reliability of the Department of Basic Education's exam monitoring.

Umalusi will monitor exam writing and marking, and verify the results.

Rakometsi said Umalusi was confident that "examination and assessment standards are maintained and that the national senior certificate remains a credible qualification".

Granville Whittle, a Department of Basic Education spokesman, yesterday said the department was "quite confident that all systems are in place to run a very secure exam" in Mpumalanga.

Whittle said that 10 senior officials of the department had been deployed to Mpumalanga.

"The idea is to build capacity and put new systems in place before handing it back to the province [in two years]." Source TIMESLIVE

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