SADTU Statement on the court ruling on the Rewrite of leaked Matric Exam Papers

11 December 2020

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) welcomes the decision by the High Court, Pretoria Division to set aside the decision by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to have all learners who wrote the National Senior Certificate (Matric) mathematics and physical science PAPER 2 to be rewritten.

SADTU, as one of the organizations that filed the court application to interdict the Department, is vindicated by the court’s decision which found that the Minister’s decision was irregular and unlawful.

The judgement by Judge Norman Davis has saved thousands of learners from a grave injustice that would live with learners for the rest of their lives. “As a representative of the teachers to whom learners are entrusted, we could not divorce the Union from the interest of both learners and teachers,” said SADTU General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke.

SADTU was of the belief that the decision to have all rewrite was unfair and premature because the investigation had not been concluded. Based on the initial investigation which showed that the number of learners who may have seen the paper are less than 195 out of the 339 000 who wrote the maths paper which translate to less than 0, 06% and an even lower percentage in respect of the physical science paper, there was no basis for a national rewrite.

The Department of Basic Education consulted with the Unions and SADTU 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.

Judge Norman Davis vindicated SADTU and the other Unions when he ruled that there was no rational basis why the proposals by all stakeholders that a final decision on rewriting should only be taken once the further investigation have been concluded, should not be the way to go.

“Even if the extent of the leakage is hundredfold of that already identified, the question is still whether a 6% compromise would result in a non-certification. Umalusi has not even considered this or at least not done so on the papers,” read the judgement.

We also commend the judgement for clarifying the role of quality assurer Umalusi.

Umalusi had threatened not to certify the examination if there was no rewrite. Judge Davis said that according to section 21 of the General and Further Education and Training Quality Assurance Act, No 58 of 2001, Umalusi must assure the quality of the assessment of the NSC, it may refuse to issue a certificate of such assurance if a substantial irregularity has occurred. “On the only available evidence to date, it can hardly be found that the percentage referred to above, amounts to being ‘substantial’,’’ read the judgement.

We thank our teachers for their hard work in preparing these learners from Grade R up to Grade 12.

The judgement of the court is good for all our learners and a clear message to all of us as leaders to remain sensitive to the plight and future of our children. We need to foreground the interest of learners and remain rational when we take decisions which will affect them.

The Grade 12 of 2020 is a resilient class who withstood both the anxiety of the Pandemic and examinations of 2020. They spent sleepless nights to prepare for this exams under difficult circumstances. Our children are tired and need to be protected from any trauma which might have long term psychological effects.

We urge the learners to focus on the last few subjects. Rest and recharge as they prepare to further their studies at institutions of higher learning next year.

We urge public commentators and analysts to be fair to this cohort of learners and inspire them instead of casting doubt over their future.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157