Despite a few hiccups, more than 14 000 of last year’s matriculants received their results by SMS. The service, previously offered only in Gauteng, was extended to all provinces but the Western Cape last year.

Business Centric Information Technology (BCIT), the company that provided the service, says it supplied results to about 14 000 of the 17 000 students on its database. The 17 000 consisted of 8 000 who pre-registered via the Web site, some via their schools, and the rest were via an SMS querying service.

The query service, at R1 per query, involved students sending their exam and identity numbers via SMS to the BCIT system and it responded with their results. This method seemed to be the most popular of the three, says the company.

BCIT says various factors hindered the process, such as a bug in the system caused by Web site registrations, and about 3,000 students providing incorrect details. "Systems are in place now to avoid that happening in the future," says Maite Nathaniel Sebolai, one of the directors at BCIT.

Another glitch was caused by the fact that messages were also queued on the cellphone network BCIT uses, the short message service centre (SMSC). "We were unaware that the network was using a number of SMSCs in a load-balanced manner, as they were expecting a lot of traffic, and we continued to use just the one system," Sebolai says. "This caused a delay in releasing some of the results on 30 December."

For 2004, BCIT aims to supply matric supplementary and technical college exam results in May, and the matric and technical college final exam results in December.

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