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Thursday, February 29, 2024

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Alleged Leaks At The MES: Education Minister Denies

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Leela Devi Dookun Lutchmun, in a press conference on Saturday, has once again explained that one cannot talk of leaking examination papers when the papers in question were not yet finalized. She reassured that the confidential information on the USB stick has been destroyed. The case is almost a month old and the guilty Senior Research and Development Officer of the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate (MES) has been dismissed from his post.

“We cannot talk about the leak of examination papers”

The Senior Research and Development Officer of the MES, involved in the theft case of the examination papers, was arrested during his offence by one of his colleagues while he was handling the documents on the computer in question. The suspect did not have time to steal the confidential information, as the papers had not yet been finalized and sent to Cambridge in England for printing. There can be no talk of the exam papers leaking. I ask the Opposition not to play politics on the backs of our children,” said the Education Minister, reassuring that the confidential data will not be used in the preparation of the Primary School Achievement Certificate (PSAC) exams and has been destroyed. “The MES has reassured us that the papers are being prepared and that the exams will take place as scheduled,” she concluded. The suspect has been “interdicted” and internal and police investigations are continuing.

A look back at the case

As a reminder, this case dates back to 01 June. The offence was committed by a Senior Officer of the Research and Development Section of the MES, a section that hosts sensitive data.  On the USB stick seized, investigators reported that there were 38 questionnaires and other information relating to the upcoming Primary School Achievement Certificate (PSAC) and National Certificate of Examination (NCE) examinations. His computer was also seized for screening. The police investigation is also about the Senior Research and Development Officer’s mode of access to this highly secure department where all access is official and under the supervision of the Head of Department, a secretary and a Security Officer. He was not allowed access because he had signed a Declaration of Ward two years earlier, declaring that a relative will take part in these reviews, and in this case, the PSAC. According to the procedures, he could not participate in the preparations of these papers. The profile of the accused civil servant is that he is in his forties and has three children, including a daughter who will compete in the PSAC, and is a former secondary school teacher and current teacher in two tertiary institutions.

MES credibility questioned

The Opposition points the finger at the very credibility of the MES. At the Entente de l’Espoir press conference on Saturday. The Union of Private Secondary Education Employees (UPSEE) is also questioning the credibility of the MES. “Is there real control, real security and real transparency in the operations and decisions within the MES?” He also refers to complaints against the selection of invigilators. “In major examinations, there is a constant and continuous disparity in the selection of invigilators. Educators, who come out of the private sector, are always assigned for the lower grades,” he said.

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