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School fabricated marks but pupils did not even sit for exams, says whistle-blower

2019-11-12 23:06

Whistle-blower says school fabricated the English examination marks of grades 8, 9 and 11. He says pupils did not even sit for the exams

A Limpopo school that has failed to reach a 50% matric pass for the past three years allegedly fabricated English marks for grades 8, 9 and 11 in March.

The allegation about the fabricated marks was made by Michael Mosomane to the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC) as part of his submission, which City Press has seen, challenging the termination of his contract by the education department in May.

Mosomane was employed in January as a temporary accounting teacher at Nakedi Secondary in De Vrede village about 130km outside of Polokwane.

He told City Press that he had initially reported the matter to the education department’s offices in Polokwane on May 6 to raise the alarm, but he received no feedback.

 Michael Mosomane
Michael Mosomane alleges that Nakedi Secondary fabricated English marks for grades 8, 9 and 11 in March. Picture: Msindisi Fengu/City Press

Instead, his contract was terminated by the department on May 27, despite it being scheduled to end in December.

Limpopo was at the bottom of the class last year, obtaining a 69.4% pass rate, an improvement of 3.8 percentage points from the 2017 mark.

The basic education department said the matric results from last year showed that the school was among the underperformers, obtaining only 25.7% from the 35 pupils who sat for exams.

In 2017 the school obtained 44.4% from 36 pupils and in 2016 it obtained 40.4% from 47 matriculants.

Mosomane’s report containing the allegations had the education department’s official stamp, dated May 6.

It also has a signature from an education department official – “Azwindi” – acknowledging receipt of the report.

In the report, Mosomane said: “I submit that grades 11, 9 and 8 English marks were fabricated and given to pupils without them having sat for any formal test or exam session and subsequently reported to us in a so-called staff meeting held on April 4.”

He said warnings were raised at that meeting about how marks were allocated. He said there were no convincing answers or responses.

“It is on this basis that gross transgressions have been committed by our site manager [school principal] and that warrants a disciplinary process to ensue,” Mosemane said.

In a separate stamped report he submitted to the department on June 3, he challenged the termination of his contract.

Mosomane said he was called into a meeting on May 28, attended by school principal Lazarus Sehlangu.

It was at this meeting that he was handed a letter terminating his contract.

In his documentation he disputed the termination of his contract in the middle of its term.

“I should state with no regrets whatsoever that I submitted to the [district] director’s office transgressions constituting section 17 of the Employment of Education Act on the part of the principal, Sehlangu, falsifying pupils’ marks and reported to parents as such, subsequently the labour unit within the education departmen came to investigate,” he said in the document.

When City Press visited the school last Wednesday, Sehlangu declined to comment but revealed that the matter was investigated by the education department which found no wrongdoing on his part.

He confirmed that earlier this year the school was short of an English teacher for the affected grades.

The school has 12 teachers and about 300 pupils.

Sam Makondo, Limpopo education department spokesperson, said Mosomane’s matter was with the ELRC and would be dealt with through the dispute resolution process.

As a department we respect this process and we will allow it to run to its logical conclusion. We wonder why Mr Mosomane, who has taken this matter to the ELRC, [does] not have confidence in the ELRC and [is] not waiting for the process to complete.

“For easy reference, you can ask him to provide you with the letter of his appointment; maybe you might have better answers. So, as the department, we cannot be drawn into amatter which is before the ELRC,” Makondo said.

Mosomane provided City Press with his letter of employment.

Part of it indicates that his contract was scheduled to be terminated at the end of December or when a permanent teacher had been hired to fill the post, whichever occurred first.

He showed City Press an application letter dated April 8 made by a teacher from a different school and the acceptance of the said teacher’s application by Nakedi Secondary on March 15.

The education department accepted the teacher’s application only on May 27.

Mosomane said the teacher’s application and acceptance letter from the school and that from the department formed part of the department’s submission to the ELRC defending the termination of his contract.

The dates, he said, of both the teacher’s application letter and the acceptance letter by the school did not make sense.

“This thing was clearly manipulated to defend my termination. But the dates give it all away. I should have received a month’s notice from the employer if my contract was to be terminated, but this was not the case.

“This is all before the ELRC,” Mosomane said.

Makondo did not respond to specific questions relating to whether an investigation was being carried out by the department into allegations relating to the fabrication of marks, copies of the pupils’ exam scripts and why Mosomane – a whistle-blower – was not updated about the progress or outcome of the investigation.

Cindy Foca, ELRC general secretary, confirmed that Mosomane’s matter was before the ELRC.

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December 15 2019