AfriForum responds: Jonathan Jansen has ‘disrespected’ matric achievers

The inevitable outcome of an attitude like the professor’s is poor performance and growing poverty, says CEO Kallie Kriel

23 January 2022 - 17:21
By Kallie Kriel
The results of white majority schools raise national averages in general, giving a veneer of decency in the printed press.
Image: Gallo Images/Die Burger/Jaco Marais IT'S OBVIOUS The results of white majority schools raise national averages in general, giving a veneer of decency in the printed press.

Jonathan Jansen’s statement in his Sunday Times Daily article titled, “This is why AfriForum wants the matric results printed”, in which he writes that “children with bags of distinctions are not intellectually smart”, is extremely offensive and an attack on the dignity of thousands of hardworking young people.  

You could still accept that Jansen presents himself as superior by referring to himself on social media as a “distinguished professor”. However, when he allows his omniscient superiority to spill over into a disrespectful, insensitive attack on the intellectual ability of any young person who excels academically, he is overstepping the boundaries of humanitarianism.

A generalised attack on all young people who excel academically, without him ever meeting the vast majority of them, is evident of stereotyping in the extreme. Stereotyping is and remains unacceptable and is the root cause of evils such as racism. It is therefore quite ironic that Jansen — while acting severely stereotypical — haughtily allows himself the right to falsely brandish AfriForum’s successful court bid to have the matric results published as a racist motive. Jansen furthermore insults young black people who have worked hard and performed brilliantly in matric — and, in fact, all black people — by branding achievement as a white phenomenon.

The country’s success requires all of us to pursue excellence. Jansen’s attempts to wrongly attach a racist motive to the pursuit of excellence and to cast suspicion on achievement are foolish. The inevitable outcome of such an attitude is poor performance and growing poverty. Recognising matric achievements — especially by matriculants who have had to overcome difficult circumstances through hard work — can motivate future matriculants from all communities to also pursue excellence.

If Jansen had been as concerned about the myriad young people in poor communities who are hampered by their dysfunctional schools, he would have realised that the publishing of matric results is important to expose these dysfunctional schools and to ensure intervention. And since the names of pupils are not published, the publishing of matric result does not prejudice them in any way whatsoever. However, sweeping the dysfunctional schools’ failures under the carpet by prohibiting the publication of matric results will only serve to diminish public pressure to force these schools to clean up their act. This will only sacrifice future matriculants on the altar of poor education.

We know that the stranglehold the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has on township schools only protects teachers who refuse to do their work or who are undisciplined. This is the root cause of non-performance in these schools. The strongest indication of this is that parents in these poor areas — who, just like any other parent, wants the best for their child — are trying their best to enrol their children in suburban schools where Sadtu does not wield the sceptre. Instead of tackling this problem head-on, he unfortunately sides with Sadtu and their attempts to keep matric results a secret.

Every one of us who believes our children deserve a better future should therefore continue together to fight zealously for transparency in the educational system. The publishing of matric results is an important component in this regard, and AfriForum will therefore continue fighting to ensure it.  

Kallie Kriel is CEO of AfriForum.