Question NW2406 to the Minister of Higher Education and Training

Share this page:

17 October 2018 - NW2406

Profile picture: van der Westhuizen, Mr AP

van der Westhuizen, Mr AP to ask the Minister of Higher Education and Training

(1)(a) What periods were set from the last examination session for the target dates for the bulk release of examination results for the (a) National Accredited Technical Education Diploma and (c) National Certificate (Vocational) at each public technical and vocational education and training college since the November 2015 examination cycle, (d) how do the periods differ from those set in the previous 10 years and (d) what are the reasons for any changes; (2) whether any delays were experienced in the publication of examination results for the specified programmes since the November 2015 examination cycle; if so, (a) why was the publication of the results delayed, (b) which subjects’ results were delayed, (c) for what amount of time were the results delayed and (d) what mechanisms have been put in place to eliminate these delays in the future?

Reply:

  1. (a)-(c) The dates for the bulk release of examination results for the National Accredited Technical Education Diploma and National Certificate (Vocational) at each public Technical and Vocational Education and Training college since the November 2015 examination cycle are provided in the table below.

Qualification

Examination cycle

Scheduled release dates

Actual dates

(exceptions are given in 2(a) below)

Engineering Studies (ES)

April 2015

11 May 2015

22 May 2015

 

August 2015

04 September 2015

04 September 2015

 

November 2015

13 January 2016

31 December 2015

Business Studies (BS)

June 2015

17 July 2015

17 July 2015

 

November 2015

13 January 2016

31 December 2015

 

November 2015

13 January 2016

31 December 2015

Engineering Studies (ES)

April 2016

10 May 2016

10 May 2016

 

August 2016

06 September 2016

06 September 2016

 

November 2016

31 December 2016

31 December 2016

Business Studies (BS)

June 2016

13 July 2016

12 July 2016

 

November 2016

31 December 2016

30 December 2016

 

November 2016

31 December 2017

30 December 2017

Engineering Studies (ES)

April 2017

09 May 2017

09 May 2017

 

August 2017

05 September 2017

05 September 2017

 

November 2017

31 December 2017

31 December 2017

Business Studies (BS)

June 2017

18 July 2017

18 July 2017

 

November 2017

31 December 2017

31 December 2017

 

November 2017

31 December 2017

31 December 2017

d) The target dates for the bulk release of examination results for the 2015-2017 academic years are more or less the same with insignificant changes due to college recess periods. These dates are in line with those of the past 10 years for both NATED and NC (V) qualifications respectively.

However, there were minor changes to the release date for November examinations. From 2015, the release of results was moved from between the 3rd and 8th January to 31 December. This change was made to afford colleges’ the opportunity to distribute results and conduct candidate registration in time for the new academic year.

To standardise raw marks, the Department is required by Umalusi to capture 95% for a subject to be considered suitable for standardisation. This is an increase from 80% for NATED qualifications.

Largely due to the introduction of an offline data capturing desktop system which provides an easy-to-use mechanism for the capturing of marks, there has been a significant improvement in respect of the timeous release of results compared to the previous ten years. The delays experienced in the release of the results were remnants of challenges inherited with the function shift of the TVET colleges from Provincial Education Departments to the Department of Higher Education and Training.

2. (a)-(c) Despite the general improvement in the timeous release of results there have been exceptions to this.

The Department may only standardise raw marks where the capture rate meets the required 95% as already indicated. In smaller cohorts of students, for example 1 to 14 students, the capture rate needs to be 100% before the subject results can be released.

The Department may not release results for the following reasons:

  • Where an irregularity reported during the conduct of examinations is of such a nature that it affects the overall integrity of the subject, e.g. suspected leakage of papers. In this instance, the results for affected subjects are released as soon as the investigation is completed if nothing wrong is found.
  • Where a candidate is alleged to have engaged in an act of dishonesty during an examination, e.g. copying, ghost writing, and crib notes. The national policy allows for 21 days for the candidate to be informed of the alleged irregularity post resulting and a final decision on the candidate’s status (guilty / not guilty) is made by the National Examinations Irregularities Committee on the basis of reports and evidence submitted and investigations where required. In such instances, the results for the affected candidates are only released where a candidate has been found not guilty.
  • Candidates who wrote examinations starting from the November 2016 examinations without complying with the minimum examination admission requirements (MQ) as indicated in Memorandum 46 of 2015 as well as 80% attendance. These candidates were reflected as MQ in the Schedule of Results released to centres and would therefore not receive a subject result for the affected subject(s). Unfortunately, despite the instruction in Memorandum 46 of 2015, a significant number of candidates who did not meet the requirements were still allowed to write the examinations, which shows that colleges fail to manage the implementation of the minimum examination entry requirements.
  • Where the examination centre has not submitted all the raw marks for all of the components of a subject, the raw marks may not be processed to generate subject results. In instances where a centre submits an outstanding mark (777) the accompanying evidence (scripts, portfolios of evidence) must be verified by both the Department and the quality council before the raw marks can be captured and the results for the affected subjects or candidates are released. This verification process can delay the release of the results of the affected students because Umalusi needs to verify the marks that are submitted outside the examination cycle.
  • Where an examination centre submitted incorrect raw marks and requests the amendment of a mark, the accompanying evidence (scripts, portfolios of evidence) must be verified by both the Department and Umalusi before the raw marks can be amended and the results for the affected candidates are released. This also causes the delay in the release of the results of few affected students.

While the Department is responsible for the entire value chain, some functions are performed by different role players as follows: quality assurance, standardisation and approval of results (Umalusi and QCTO); the development and maintenance of the examination IT system {State Information Technology Agency (SITA)}, processing of examination results (the Department), distribution of results to candidates (TVET colleges).

Generally, the bulk release for the November examination results are released earlier than anticipated to afford colleges an opportunity to begin the new academic year on time. Where the results were not released on the scheduled date, this was due to the non-submission of raw marks on the part of the examination centre; examination irregularities; or due to examination technical IT system challenges.

Delays in the bulk release of 2015 examinations results

A National Examination Irregularities Committee (NEIC) has been established to manage irregularities and to ensure that the results of those found guilty are declared null and void. The core business of the committee is to protect the integrity of the results.

Irregularities can take place at any point in the value chain or organisation and it is always a challenging task to detect the genesis of the irregularities

For the April 2015 examinations all NATED subject results were delayed by approximately 4-9 days due to SITA examination IT processing problems.

For June 2015 examinations all NATED subject results were released on the scheduled dates except for some subjects where the electronic file submitted by the examination centre did not include the raw marks for all candidates or did not fully upload onto the examinations IT system. As a result, the outstanding mark sheets/marks were sourced and the “missing” marks were captured at the beginning of the academic year and an updated schedule of results were released on a date following the bulk release date.

For August 2015 examinations all subjects’ results were released on scheduled dates with the exception of the 25 subjects, namely, Electrical Trade Theory N2, Electro-Technology N3, Engineering Drawing N3, Engineering Science N1, Engineering Science N2, Engineering Science N3, Fitting and Machining Theory N2, Industrial Electronics N2, Industrial Electronics N3, Mathematics N2-N3 and Mechanotechnology N3, Engineering Science N4, Electrotechnics N4, Industrial Electronics N4-N6, Mathematics N4-N6, Mechanotechnics N4-N5, Power Machines N5-N6 and Supervisory Management N6 due to alleged irregularities. These results were delayed with approximately 7-22 days due to the nature of examination anomalies, which required a protracted investigation before the release of the results.

For December 2015 examinations, the results of more than 600 subjects were released on scheduled dates. There were delays in releasing the results of NC(V) (i.e. Stored Programme Systems Level 4); and 3 NATED (i.e. Industrial Orientation N3, Motor Trade Theory N3 and Mechanical Drawing and Design N5) subjects’. This was due to Umalusi requesting re-marking of the scripts of these subjects at certain raw mark intervals (i.e. 30-39% and 40-49%).

Bulk release of 2016 examination results

For April 2016 examinations, all NATED subject results were released on the scheduled dates with the exception of four subjects (4) (i.e. Plating and Structural Steel Drawings N3, Electrical Trade Theory N3, Water Treatment Practice N3 and Waste-Water Treatment Practice N3). The delays were due to the examination centres not having submitted all the raw marks for all of the components of these subjects. The remaining results were released on 16 May 2016, shortly after the scheduled release on 10th May.

For June 2016 examination all NATED results were released on the scheduled dates, except that there were gaps in the subject results for examination centres where the electronic file submitted by the examination centre did not include the raw marks for all candidates. The outstanding mark sheets/marks were sourced and an updated schedule of results were released on a mop-up date following the bulk release date.

For August 2016 examinations all subjects’ results were released on scheduled dates with the exception of 8 subjects, namely, Engineering Science N3, Mathematics N3, N4, N5, Mechano-Technology N3, Electrotechinics N3 and Engineering drawing N2 due to alleged irregularities. In addition, Plant Operation Theory N2 examination results were not released on the scheduled date owing to the examination centres not having submitted all the raw marks for all of the components of this subject. A protracted investigation into examination anomalies delayed these results by 1-23 days.

For December 2016 examinations all subjects’ results were released on scheduled dates with exception of Engineering Science N3, Engineering Science N2, Mathematics N5, Building Drawing N3 and Electrical Trade theory N2 due to alleged irregularities. The results of 13 subjects were delayed due to low capture rate: Aircraft Maintenance theory N3, Aircraft Metalwork Theory N3, Building Drawing N3, Building Science N2, Digital Electronics N4, Electronic Trade Theory N2, Engineering Science N3, Logic Systems N3, Mathematics N5, Motor Electrical Theory N5, Refrigeration N3, and Water and Waste-water Treatment Practice N2. These results were released between 4-10 days after the bulk release of results.

Bulk release of 2017 examinations results

For April 2017 examination all NATED subject results were released on the scheduled dates, except where the electronic file submitted by exam centre did not include the raw marks for all candidates (i.e. it was incomplete) or did not fully upload onto the examinations IT system. An updated schedule of results were released on a mop-up date following the bulk release date.

For June 2017 examination all NATED subject results were released on the scheduled dates except, as indicated previously, where the electronic file submitted by exam centre did not include the raw marks for all candidates (i.e. it was incomplete) or did not fully upload onto the examinations IT system. These were addressed as indicated previously.

For August 2017 examinations all NATED results were released on the scheduled dates with the exception of following subjects, namely, Rigging Theory N2, and Logic Systems N5 owing to the examination centres not having submitted all the raw marks for all of the components of these subjects. The results for these subjects were released on 10 September 2017 (three days after bulk release).

For December 2017 examinations all results were released on scheduled dates with exception of 5 NATED subjects, where there were alleged irregularities, namely, Engineering Science N3, Industrial Electronics N2, Mathematics N2, N3 and MechanoTechnology N2. In addition, there were delays in the release of results for 2 NATED subjects (i.e. Radio Theory N1 and Motor Bodywork Theory N3); and 4 NC (V) subjects (i.e. Engineering Fabrication-Sheet Metalwork L3, isiXhosa First Additional Language L3, Engineering Fabrication- Sheet Metalwork L4, ixiXhosa First Additional Language L4). These results were delayed by approximately 5 days due to the examination centres not having submitted all the raw marks for all of the components of this subject.

(d) The Department conducts a mock end-to-end examination process to simulate the examination process in order to diagnose any examination IT system challenges for improvement purposes. The Department has also met with all role players in the value chain and formed a technical task team to look at all examination challenges including certifications in between examinations. The Director-General also instituted weekly meetings with the SITA Chief Executive Officer and both SITA and departmental senior managers responsible for the examinations function. These meetings have been instrumental in ensuring that the pressure is kept on SITA to resolve the exam IT system challenges and is the reason that substantial improvements have been made in resulting in the past two years.

The Department has built capacity to conduct investigations of any reported examination anomalies or irregularities. Papers that are reported to have been leaked are replaced. If the paper has already been written, the scripts of the candidates are audited to assess if there are common responses that may suggest that candidates had prior access to the paper. The Department has made significant progress in eliminating the phenomenon of leakages. Umalusi commended the Department for managing the April 2018 examination leakages; while in August 2018, the allegations were not confirmed and Umalusi approved the results.

The Department issued a non-compliance directive to all public TVET colleges that displayed non-compliance to a lesser or greater extent in respect to the non-submission or incorrect submission of raw marks. This process has resulted in a significant improvement in terms of the timeous release of results compared to the previous ten years.

Finally, the development of the new integrated examination computer system is at an advanced stage and the data migration process, which entails the transfer of the old SITA data to the new system, is ongoing. The Provincial Education Departments and national examination officials have already tested and assessed the completed modules against the user requirements/ specifications

Source file