The department announced the move on Saturday, following a meeting with the Council of Education Ministers (CEM).
The council is made up of education MECs.
Its resolve follows a high court judgment on Friday, which set government’s decision for matrics to write the leaked papers on December 15 and 17, respectively.
“CEM agreed that the Class of 2020 has been confronted by many challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it would therefore be unfair to further subject the Class of 2020, their teachers and parents to further uncertainties and exacerbate the anxieties they currently face.”
Congress Of South African Students (Cosas) is elated over the developments.
Reacting to the Friday court ruling, the organisation’s National Spokesperson, Douglas Ngobeni, said: “We are happy that the court made a sober ruling, a sober decision that our learners can not be subjected to cleaning up after the mess of the Department of Basic Education.”
It had cited concerns from learners as some its reasons for the decision.
They had rejected the DBE’s decision for a rewrite as unfair.
Teachers’ union, Naptosa, has also welcomed the cancellation of the exams – saying DBE should not have made a decision on incomplete information.
A probe into the matter had not been able to establish how many learners had accessed the leaked papers.
The Department of Basic Education has, however, maintained that its decision was aimed at protecting the credibility, fairness and integrity of the 2020 matric exams.
It says quality assurance agency, Umalusi, will now have to give a final verdict on that matter.
The department, nonetheless, plans to challenge some aspects of the Friday court ruling.