Exam leak: Swartbooi slams education ministry

06 December 2021 | Education

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

The Landless People’s Movement (LPM) has urged parents not to take the cancellation of grade 11 and 12 examinations lying down, demanding that they drag government to court for ruining the lives of their children who will have to repeat the school year.

The final assessments were put on ice after 10 people were arrested last week in the biggest exam leak scandal the country has ever seen.

The education ministry’s decision to have the exams rewritten in January and February will ultimately impact learners’ plans to enrol in local and international tertiary institutions, which usually begin registration around February.

Condemning the decision in the strongest terms, LPM leader Bernadus Swartbooi said it is a shame that the ministry has now thrown a blanket accusation, labelling learners as ‘thieves’ for the leaked exam papers.

During a press briefing, he suggested that the ministry distribute new question papers where the memos were leaked, proceed with the exams as a matter of urgency and conclude them before end of the 2021 academic year.

“How does a whole bunch of technical experts sit, even with access to the Attorney-General office or government attorneys, and take a decision that all grade 11 learners are guilty and therefore they must sit and rewrite?

“Cheating learners must be identified and must be given an ungraded mark and the grade 11 results must just not be published as they used to be published because it is likely to be tampered with. They must bring in specialised investigators to urgently track the distributions and see who were able to access these papers,” he said.

‘Insensitive, toxic, stupid’

The outspoken politician also urged the ministry to cancel its annual top performer award ceremony and keep alternative question papers saved that can be used should exams be leaked again.

Swartbooi called on the ministry to ring-fence the issue which has become a norm in recent years and assess learners’ performance in exams compared to their annual performance to see if there is a major discrepancy.

“Almost 98% of our learners are honest, hardworking children with their parents sweating for their lives and now this issue comes to delay and dismantle their livelihoods.

“It is unacceptable, it is wrong, it is illegal, it is insensitive, it is toxic, it is stupid and cannot be allowed to stand,” he fumed.

Misconceptions

Meanwhile, the education ministry has responded to say there are several misconceptions and misunderstandings around this issue.

It explained that its position to have learners repeat grade 11 and 12 examinations was in line with Cambridge education standards.

The ministry pointed out that Namibia risked losing its Cambridge examination licence, hence the decision to recall examinations.

"The conditions under which examinations must be administered as well as the standards that it must meet is clearly spelled out in the accreditation agreement. The accreditation committee of Cambridge International took its stance that all the papers that have been leaked or compromised must be rewritten. If the ministry had chosen to allow the candidates to continue with the examinations in affected subjects, at the end of the day, they would have been left with a subject or a certificate which is not accredited and which would not allow them access to further education or accepted for employment,” the ministry said.

“The certificate would have no value because it would not have been signed off by the accrediting body."

The ministry has come under immense fire over the decision, which is expected to jeopardise the tertiary enrolment of grade 12 learners. However, it has reassured the public that resources are being deployed to speed up the results process.

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