373 candidates who sat for their NSSC examination in November last year are suspected to have had access to the question papers and memoranda, the Deputy Minister of Education, David Namwandi revealed this week.
According to Namwandi, it became clear during the marking process that the learners had access to the question papers and their memoranda in some ordinary level subjects such as Biology, English Second Language, Agriculture, Business Studies, Economics and Development Studies.
"Apart from the investigation that were conducted by the Ministry of Education and the Law Enforcement Unit, the ministry again carried out an investigation during the marking of the Grade 12 answer scripts," he added.
Eight regions are involved in the leakage of Grade 12 question papers and their memoranda on 12 November 2012 which is suspected to have taken place in the Caprivi. Most of the learners who are accused of cheating sat for their examinations in this region.
More than 270 Caprivi learners are the target of the investigation while another 84 learners from the Khomas Region seemingly also benefit from this fraud.
Small numbers of learners in other regions such as Oshana, Omusati, Ohangwena, Omaheka, Erongo and Kavango, also appear to have had access to the question papers.
Namwandi said his ministry has already dispatched a team of competent education officers and subject experts to the regions to work hand in hand with the regional staff for speedy investigation.
"The results of the 373 candidates are put on hold pending the outcome of the investigation. We promise that these candidates will be informed of the outcome of the investigation as soon as possible. The international and local recognition of our qualification is critical, thus strategies have to be in place to root out any malpractice related to examination including cheating and leakage," he said.
He also said that the ministry will use all the available instruments at its disposal to protect the creditability and authenticity of its qualification. "Therefore the conduct and the administration of the national examinations are crucial and should not be undermined at any level."
"If any of the 373 will be found to have participated in the leakage of the question papers and memoranda, the results of such candidate in all his or her subjects will be declared null and void and [they] will not be allowed to sit for the national examination for one year," said Namwandi.
He further said that the ministry is not at liberty to disclose the mechanism which were used to uncover the alleged cheating during the examinations pending the outcome of the investigations currently underway.
The investigations results are expected to be made public in the next three weeks.