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‘For whose gain?’: Thuli Madonsela weighs in on court ruling to publish matric results

19 January 2022 - 12:00
Former public protector Prof Thuli Madonsela says if matric results must be published, it should be done without the names and student numbers of pupils.
Former public protector Prof Thuli Madonsela says if matric results must be published, it should be done without the names and student numbers of pupils.
Image: Gallo Images/Darren Stewart

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has joined many weighing in on the Pretoria high court’s ruling that matric results should be published.

On Tuesday the high court ruled that the department of basic education should publish the 2021 matric results on media platforms.

This comes after lobby group AfriForum, Maroela Media and a matric student, Anlé Spies, challenged basic education minister Angie Motshekga’s decision not to publish the results via the media.

The National Senior Certificate results will be released on Thursday.

Weighing in on the decision, Madonsela questioned who gains from it.

“For whose gain? I’m uncertain publishing matric results is good, fair and just to the matriculants whose privacy and mental health are more important than the entertainment and financial gain that accrues from publishing results,” said Madonsela.

She said if publishing results was about transparency and public accountability, then it should be done without the names or student numbers of pupils.

“If publishing matric results is about transparency and public accountability for tracking the performance of our education system, then we can publish the data without the names or student numbers of pupils,” she said.

Former DA MP Phumzile Van Damme said the publishing of matric results might have been acceptable in a society that did not value privacy and mental health.

“We no longer live in such a society. Why must the values of old apply to a society and its young where the opposites are now important values? Let go,” she said

She said though it is no longer names and surnames published on media platforms, exam numbers can be traced and this could humiliate pupils who failed.

“There comes a time when values must adapt and reflect the times. Privacy and mental health considerations are values that have high importance now. Don’t continue to apply standards that have been proven to be harmful. For what reason other than ‘we have always done it this way’.

“The world of ‘grit your teeth, you don’t matter’ is gone. Let the new generations set their own standards. Let new generations decide a world where their values guide how they are treated and not yours. They’ve said their mental health matters. It didn’t to [you], it does to them,”  said Van Damme.

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) slammed the high court, saying publishing the results brings extra monetary value to media houses that see it as a “moneymaking bonanza”.

“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 pupils and their parents,” said Sadtu.

The union said if AfriForum was genuinely interested in transforming the education system, it would have dedicated the same energy towards mobilising the private sector to support the effort by government to resource education in real terms.

“AfriForum 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,” said Sadtu.

“AfriForum must rather join our call that a wealth tax be imposed to address the legacies of apartheid in education and our economy.”


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