Basic education minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

The department of basic education says it will defend any attempt in court by the  SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) to halt the rewriting of leaked matric exam papers.

The union said in a sternly worded statement on Saturday that it was considering legal action against the department and Umalusi — the examinations quality assurer — over a decision to have all pupils who wrote the national senior certificate mathematics and physical science papers rewrite them because the question papers were leaked.

Basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said it was “all systems go” for the rewrite announced by basic education  minister Angie Motshekga.

The minister announced last Friday that the mathematics paper two will be written on December 15 and physical science paper two  will be written on December 17.

“Sadtu will, on Monday, file an urgent court application to interdict the department’s decision,” said the union.

The department had consulted with unions and the majority of unions made their views known that they were against the decision and consensus was reached. “However, Umalusi did not agree and the decision to rewrite was taken.”

The union said the department had jumped the gun.

“Sadtu believes the decision to have all learners doing mathematics and physical science rewrites is unfair and premature because the investigation [into the leaks] has not been concluded,” said Sadtu.

“Based on the initial investigation which has shown that the number of learners who may have seen the paper [is] less than 200 out of the 390,000 who wrote the paper, there is no basis for a national rewrite.

“Preparing for the 2020 matric examinations was not easy under the Covid-19 conditions and the learners’ mental health and readiness for a rewrite is a big issue.”

Mugwena Maluleke, the union’s general secretary, said the decision had left many learners and teachers distraught and frustrated. “It undermines the work of our teachers and learners who worked under difficult circumstances due to Covid-19. Learners are being punished for something that is not of their making as only a few saw the paper.”

Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said on Sunday that it  “will not take the threat of a legal challenge lying down”.

“The department will wait for the matter to get to court upon which it will be defended. Until the court papers are received it remains unclear what case they intend to make in court.” said Mhlanga. “As things stand the rewrite is taking place as announced by the minister on Friday.

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