Opposition parties call for heads to roll over matric cheating

Umalusi picked up cheating in seven provinces.

The results of schools implicated in cheating in the 2014 matric exams have been withheld while Umalusi investigates the claims. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Political parties have called for heads to roll over the cheating they say threatens to undermine the credibility of the matric exams.

Cheating in the 2014 matric finals was detected by certification authority Umalusi in seven provinces, with most of the cases occurring in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

While the incidents are under investigation, experts have expressed concern that it appears to indicate collusion between teachers and pupils.

Umalusi last week said its investigation would be wrapped up in March.

Markers found that grade 12s in affected areas sometimes gave the same incorrect answers. Umalusi believes teachers or exam supervisors were involved.

Results at affected schools will be withheld as the probe continues.

The parties say the cheating must be nipped in the bud.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) member of Parliament and youth leader Mkhuleko Hlengwa says the cheating is an attack on the credibility of the matric results.

"We really want fully-fledged investigation into this matter and for heads to roll and for decisive action to be taken because if we don't do that we are gambling with the future of young South Africans."

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)'s Fana Mokoena says the phenomenon of group cheating is deplorable and must be rooted out.

Mokoena says the behaviour of government officials has set a poor example.

"We have seen how government has denied the Nkandla issue, prominent people who have forged qualifications and so on."

Investigations into the cheating are underway.

ZUMA'S OFFICE: THIS MUSTN'T HAPPEN AGAIN

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma joined Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi in calling for a thorough probe into allegations of cheating.

He also congratulated the matric class of 2014 but said he's concerned about claims of copying in several provinces.

Presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj said, "The allegations must be investigated so that this doesn't happen again. We should teach our children that honesty is always the best policy."

While Gauteng scooped the top spot with an 84.7 percent pass rate, six schools were implicated in the scandal.

Lesufi said cheating wouldn't be tolerated.

"The department is finalising its report but if these schools are found guilty, we will immediately as a province, deregister the examination centres."

The 2014 matric results were released on Monday evening, with the pass rate dropping to 75.8 percent for the first group of pupils who wrote the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (Caps) exams.

The national matric pass rate dropped by 2.4 percentage points compared to the 78.2 percent pass mark achieved in 2013.