‘Unpleasant Smell’ From Exam Papers Makes Learners Sick In Limpopo

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The Government Printing Works (GPW) says it is reviewing its contract with a service provider following an incident in which children and educators in Limpopo fell ill after inhaling an “unpleasant smell” from examination papers printed by the company.

The Grade 11 Maths Literacy paper 2, Geography paper 1 and 2 and Home Languages exam papers were recalled.

GPW said it did not usually outsource the printing of examination papers, but was forced to do so after an in-house maintenance issue.

“The air-conditioning system at the GPW’s printing facility unexpectedly became faulty and stopped working. This situation called for an immediate intervention and we got a contractor to help us manage the volumes we needed to print timeously.

“The printing service provider may have used paper which contains chemicals that led to the people falling sick. I need to emphasise that GPW remains committed to the printing of state security documents, and has the capacity and capability to deliver on these products and services,” said GPW Acting CEO Alinah Fosi in a statement.

Replacement papers have been printed by GPW and they have already been delivered to the affected districts, for examinations scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

Fosi said GPW is working with relevant role players to investigate the source of the problem which resulted in the examination papers having a paint-like smell which made the learners ill.

“This is a risk that requires a long-term solution for the maintenance of our air-conditioners to ensure that GPW does not find itself in a similar situation in the future,” Fosi said.

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