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ECOL withholds exam results over leak

THE Examination Council of Lesotho (ECOL) has withheld the results of six schools after teachers allegedly leaked exam papers to students for last year’s school-leaving exams. The ECOL said some schools principals were caught helping students with answers right inside examination halls.

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The ECOL says it has now roped in the police to investigate the massive fraud during the Lesotho General Certificate of Secondary Education (LGSCE) examinations.
The scandal could put into question the integrity of the entire examinations system in Lesotho.
One of the schools under investigation is St Agnes High School in Berea.

thepost heard this week that some students at the school had access to the English and Biology question papers well before they could be written.
The deputy principal at St Agnes, Lehlohonolo Koela, confirmed that his school’s results have been suspended pending ECOL’s investigation on the alleged leaked examination papers.

“We do not even know what paper they are talking about,” Koela said, adding that the ECOL has not been specific on which paper is alleged to have been leaked.
Koela said 66 students sat for the LGSCE examinations last year and to date they do not know their results because they have been withheld.
He said a delegation of ECOL in company of the police stormed his school alleging that one of his students had access to the exam papers before they were written in the examination room.

So they wanted to investigate the matter.
Koela said the student in question has relatives working at the ECOL.
He said they asked the ECOL to issue the results of the other students while they were investigating the matter.

But ECOL refused.
Faced with this predicament, they dragged the matter to the courts where they were granted an order that they be issued with the results.

“The ECOL did not honour the order,” Koela said.

The school had a meeting with parents yesterday to inform them of the developments regarding the matter.

“We were just going to inform the parents of what happened,” he said.

“We thought this would not take this long.”

He said they never had any formal platform to inform the parents of what really happened.

Koela said since ECOL did not honour the court order, they are going back to the High Court on Monday.
The ECOL Chief Executive Officer, Dr Khoabane Mokhitli, said as soon as they had information about the leak, they launched their investigation.
He said some students confessed that they had access to the exam papers prematurely.

Dr Mokhitli said one student had access to the papers and shared the information with others.
At Mosoang High School on the Matsieng Plateau, three teachers allegedly opened the question papers and discussed them with the students before writing the exam.

“Then they sealed them and put them back into the store room,” Dr Mokhitli said.
“This affects all the subjects,” he said.

Dr Mokhitli said they were informed by some teachers of what happened at their school.
Then they roped in the police to assist them with the investigations.

At Nyako-Soba High School, one student had access to the question papers and shared them with others.
In a stunning turn of events, Dr Mokhitli said the principal of Montši High School is said to have assisted students to answer the examination questions.
He said the principal has not rejected the charge.

Dr Mokhitli said the Principal of Matlakeng High School also allegedly assisted students to answer the Sesotho and History question papers.
At Manonyane High School, ECOL was stunned to find out that 10 students had the same presentation of their work.

“Where they have rubbed off an answer and corrected it, they have done the same. They all had the same answers. Where they got answers wrong it happened to all of them,” Dr Mokhitli said.

Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala said they do not have a dog in the fight.
He said if the police indeed went to St Agnes they had just accompanied the ECOL delegation to the school.

“This is just a matter between the school and the ECOL,” S/Supt Halahala said.

Dr Mokhitli said under such situations, they normally inform the school boards and owners about what happened.

“We are going to issue the suspended results next month depending on our findings,” he said.

Dr Mokhitli said there would be punitive measures against those who would be found on the wrong side of the law.

He said the students might be asked to re-write the exams or be banned from writing exams for two years.
But in a case where the schools were in the wrong, the schools might have to pay for the examination costs.

Majara Molupe

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