The year 2020 has been a year of Pandemics, from Covid 19 to women killings and now the Pandemic of Leaks in the final Matric Exams. Mathematics Paper 2 was leaked last week which inspired a series of investigations by the Hawks. One would have thought “okay this has attracted serious attention” but no, the second leak happened this week while the first leak is under investigation.
Physical Science Paper 2 was leaked this week.
Anyone following South African Education closely would notice that the leaked papers have the history of being the most difficult exam papers. But also the subjects are known to be difficult too. The Department of Basic Education has reacted with shock; rightfully highlighting the long lasting damage caused by this Pandemic of Leaks to the learners’ future.
Let us face it, 2020 has been a highly stressful year; yet teachers and learners were pushed to the environment that became unbearable. Both learners and teachers experienced deaths in their families and schools due to Covid 19; at the same time they had to come back into the school environment which added unthinkable amount of pressure.
The matric exam paper was set long before Covid 19 pandemic; it was not adjusted due to the fact that the Department of Basic Education was hell-bent in completing the school calendar year regardless.
Millions of learners did not return to school because of Covid 19 and the inadequate learning alternative. Learners who returned had to deal with the stressful environment at the same time overloaded with school work. This Pandemic of Leaks was a given.
The surprising thing is that the Department of Basic Education did not anticipate it. There were leaks in previous exams but not at this rate.
The Pandemic of Leaks reveals a desperate class of 2020 which was pushed into the Dragon’s Den. Therefore the Department of Basic Education cannot use the same measures to punish learners for these leaks. I am not suggesting a “no consequences” punishment; the year is abnormal, the class of 2020 are facing a unique challenge; such things need to be considered before setting out punishments.
The Pandemic of Leaks is also an indicator that South Africa has a corruption culture.
Everyday corruption happens at grand scale with very little consequences if any. This is a culture that is getting deeply rooted in our social fabric. At the time that South Africa needed its leaders to show empathy they decided to loot and most of them are getting away with it. What lessons do young people learn from these corrupt men and women in the public office?
And so the Pandemic of Leaks cannot be blamed on learners and nor should they be punished unfairly without looking at all odds stuck against them. The Department of Basic Education and the Government at large should take the full responsibility for these leaks.