18 January 2022
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) has noted with disdain the ruling by the Pretoria High Court in favour of the AfriForum and others compelling the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to publish the matric results in mass media platforms.
It is our strong view that this ruling and those that brought the matter to court are about protecting the business interests of media houses above those of the learners and their parents.
Our education system is still heavily laced with glaring inequalities - from education infrastructure, a chronic shortage of personnel to socio-economic challenges that often bring enormous challenges to those on the receiving end. The current cohort of matriculants also had to deal with two years of disrupted learning due to the pandemic.
It is thus unreasonable in the extreme to expect them to also face the pressure of the negative social implications that come with the mass publication of results.
In our view, the publishing of matric results does not bring any educational benefit to those directly concerned, being our learners. The publishing of the results only brings extra monetary value to the media houses that see it as some kind of a money making bonanza.
We cannot celebrate the provincial log tables because the position in these logs ignores the hard material conditions the last province is faced with. The unnecessary euphoria on matric announcement is nothing else but boosting the bottom lines of the media publishing houses. The noise is unnecessary because education is a system and not the publication of the matric results.
It is just unfathomable that in a country that views education as an apex priority for developmental purposes, we have certain interest groups that are prepared to sacrifice the genuine interests of our learners for the purposes of expanding their financial bottom lines.
As far as we are concerned, this is an indication that we need a collective paradigm shift in as far as education is concerned. If we are indeed going to manage to utilize this powerful tool to the benefit of our society, then private interests cannot under any circumstances supersede those of the people.
We insist that the mass publishing of the matric results puts our learners under undue pressure from their immediate communities and some even go to unimaginable extremes in dealing with this pressure.
It is quite unfortunate that this particular ruling is also, most likely, in contradiction to the new legislation called the Protection of Personal Information Act. This is an Act that is meant to ensure that the personal information of any individual is protected effectively.
If the Afriforum was genuinely interested in transforming our education system, they would have dedicated the same energy towards mobilising the private sector to support the effort by our government to resource education in real terms. It should be mobilising its member organisations or affiliated individuals to work with us as a collective towards significantly reducing the inequality gap in our education system.
AfriForum must rather join our call that a wealth tax be imposed to address the stubborn legacies of apartheid in education and our economy.
As the biggest union in the sector, we wish to inform our learners and the class of 2021 that we are extremely proud of them. They should remain motivated despite the circumstances and to know that there is always a second chance in any eventuality.
We are calling on communities and parents to support the class of 2021 and not to be oblivious to the severe challenges this Class has faced over the past two years.
Finally, the DBE must not allow itself to be derailed by this ruling and be inhibited from making decisions relating to the sector as the lead department. The DBE should, in essence, implement policies that will bring benefits to the sector and those involved, particularly the learners in this case. The learners cannot be put under pressure by profit making organisations. The Minister, as an Executive Authority, has a duty to run the department and take decisions authorised by the legislation applicable. After consultation in terms of national Education Policy Act, the minister must pronounce on the discontinuation of publishing the matric results for the coming years and the courts’ responsibilities must be to interpret the laws and not to co-govern with those who are elected to govern.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5156
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157
Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude: 071 355 1566