Identity numbers instead of pupils’ names are now released when matric results are published in media publications, but student body Cosas says this is not good enough: they want the public release of results to be scrapped completely. By PUSELETSO NTHATE.
The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) has lobbied against the public release of matric results for years, with some success. Three years ago, the Department of Basic Education suspended releasing the names of pupils’ results, releasing only the identity and exam numbers of candidates.
The decision to omit pupils’ names followed complaints that doing so infringed on a pupil’s rights to privacy. This followed a long campaign followed by a debate between organisations representing teachers, parents, academics and pupils.
Cosas has noted its achievement in getting names omitted, but said its struggle was not over. “We are now going towards the full realisation of our call,” said Penuel Maduna, Regional Chairperson of Cosas in the Johannesburg region.
Maduna said: “The publication of matric results is a violation of our right to privacy and also contradicts the Protection of Personal Information Act.
“The fact that the whole country will see your results before you see them negatively affects your self-confidence and has led to many learners committing suicide when they do not appear in the newspapers,” said Maduna.
He added that an aggravating factor was that media houses sometimes made errors and printed incorrect information.
Cosas claimed that Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga did not have the learners’ interests at heart.
The spokesperson for Department of Basic Education, Elijah Mahlanga, said: “It’s unfortunate that Cosas claims minister Motshekga is not listening when in fact the department has been listening all along. This is why the results are being published showing only the exam numbers of learners.
“This was done in a bid to balance the interest of the learners, the nation and of all stakeholders including Cosas itself,” added Mhlanga.
But Cosas said it failed to understand why the policy of fetching results directly at school changed when pupils reach matric. “From Grade 1-11 we fetch our results from our teachers who understand us and are able to counsel us and give us advice,” explains Maduna.
Cosas says the whole tradition of publicising results should be scrapped.
The organisation’s president, Collen Malatji, said: “If you go with a group to buy a newspaper and you’re not in the newspaper the fact remains that you’ll be the laughing stock of all your friends. That’s a problem because when you collect your matric results at school there’s a certain level of comfort.”
Maduna said another weakness in the system was that results from private schools and public schools were released at different times. “Learners of private schools receive their results a week before learners from public schools. This gives them an unfair advantage to have enough time to gather all documents they need to apply for tertiary institutions. Learners from public schools receive the results a week later,” said Maduna.
Cosas has several demands which they have accused Minister Motshekga of failing to meet. It also accused the ruling ANC of arrogance and failing to listen to their grievances against the minister and its calls for her removal.
Cosas has threatened to withdraw its support for the ANC if Motshekga is not removed as education minister by next year. It has threatened to boycott the 2019 National Government Elections and the 2021 Local Government Elections if Motshekga is not removed.
It says Motshekga has been unsuccessful in transforming the education system in South Africa.
Maduna said: “The system prepares them to be job seekers instead of job creators … This education system produces unemployable young people who can’t even start their own businesses, leading to a high unemployment rate.”
He said the minister has failed to implement paperless classrooms and “continuously refused to incorporate K53 (preparation for learners’ and drivers’ licences) into our curriculum and refused to give learners better food than prisoners.
Cosas laid the blame of the woes in education at the door of the minister, saying that on her watch her department had failed to amend the South African Schools Act, even though the majority of students proposed that the clause that allows for a dual education system of private schools and public schools to exist should be scrapped.
“This gives children of the rich minority an unfair advantage of accessing a better education system while children of the poor and the working class are disadvantaged,” said Maduna.
Mahlanga disputed Cosas’s claims and said that the minister had been implementing ANC policies. “If Cosas has any problems with these policies they have the right to disagree and express their opinion. It would serve their cause well if they directed their inputs to the minister instead of issuing media statements,” said Mahlanga.
He added that Basic Education was one of the most transparent departments. “We always invite members of the public and other stakeholders to participate in all processes as guided by the Constitution,” said Mhlanga. DM
Photo: Matriculants react as they get their results at Cape Town High School on Tuesday, 6 January 2015. Photo: Nardus Engelbrecht/SAPA
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