Could the use of technology curb the leaking of matric exam papers?
Home Education Provider, Brainline, has proposed that technology should be used to prevent and reduce the leaking of exam papers. This comes amid reports of yet another paper leak last week, with the Council of Education Minister holding urgent meetings to consider the implications of the leak of the Department of Basic Education’s Maths Paper 2 and Physical Science Paper 2.
While not many view technology as the ultimate solution, it is increasingly emerging as an alternative to prevent such incidents and make the process of conducting exams more robust. The “just-in-time” paper method is often used in schools and universities around the world. It involves the creation of a bank of questions or question papers, hosting them in a secure data centre, and delivering them just in time to the examination centres electronically in encrypted form. The decryption rules are made available just in time to senior administrators at the test. Other methods could include the GPS tracking of exam paper bags and video technology for exam rooms,’ Reynecke says.
Reynecke says another alternative would be to conduct online testing as exams such as CAT’s for MBA, considered as one of the most prestigious examinations, have been successfully conducted in online mode from 2009.
Earlier this year, many schools and colleges in the United States of America had to resort to online proctoring just ahead of their annual winter exams due to the coronavirus outbreak. Reynecke says unusual circumstances often pave the way for improved system and radical changes.
‘Many institutions of learning had to quickly transition to online exams as campuses closed in response to the coronavirus outbreak. With little time for schools to adjust, many exams have become online and open-book. The integrity of the 2020 matric exams has been called into question after reports of alleged leakages of exam papers spiked, with the Hawks having to investigate the leaks. This alone is reason enough to examine alternative methods,’ Reynecke argues.
Reynecke says Brainline has taken a leaf from the book of international practices by making use of technology when it comes to monitoring exams for Gr 8 – 11 students. Grade 12 students also undergo online proctoring up until just before the final exams. In the past, families had to appoint independent invigilators to monitor a student’s exam, however, with restrictions around Covid-19, has made the online school rethink the process. The Gr 8 – 11 exams are making use of electronic support systems where the entire process must be recorded.
Meanwhile, Reynecke acknowledges that while technology has improved the way their students are being assessed, challenges around the cost of data and access to technology will hamper the roll-out across the board in especially public schools.
‘The technology that we are using this year is much more advanced than in the past and it has really added to our integrity rather than taking away from it due to Covid. It is possible to establish a well-functioning and credible process, however, students in especially rural areas without access to technology will take much longer to become part of this new development.’
Reynecke says it is, however, likely to take some time before examinations bodies will consider using virtual examinations during the final Gr 12 exams. She says some universities in South Africa are, however, allowing students to write exams online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, except for final year students who need to write in physical exam rooms.
Brainline is IEB recognised, which means that learners follow the South African National Curriculum (similar to the curriculum offered in South African schools) resulting in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) upon successful completion of their matric exams.
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