The Department of Basic Education has responded with an open letter to Professor Jonathan Jansen’s opinion piece in the Sunday Times labelling the recent matric results a “bloodbath.”
Jansen lamented that Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga and the education director-general had bamboozled the public with numbers and thus misled the public.
He went on to question why prison inmates matrics achieved better results compared to regular schoolgoers.
“You are, therefore, more likely to get a good pass in prison than in school. Parents should weigh these options when making decisions about where to enrol their children,” wrote Jansen.
The department’s spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, has since labelled the statement as nothing less than an embarrassment by the professor “exposing his ignorance”.
“It would be laughable if not so tragic; hence his untruths cannot be left unchallenged,” said Mhlanga.
“The assumption made is that the South African public are numerically illiterate, hence can be easily fooled by numbers and that these numbers relating to the performance of the class of 2020 are not presented in their entirety.”
The department also rejected Jansen’s question of “political operators, who could not care less about standards”.
Jansen was making reference to a meeting between the Assessment Standard Committee, the DBE and other stakeholders.
Mhlanga said that there was no debate and discussion and there was no way that any political influence can be brought to bear on this process standardisation, which is open and transparent.
“In the standardisation process of 2020, the Assessment Standards Committee exercised no special treatment on this class. Of the 65 subjects that were presented for standardisation, 48 were accepted on raw marks, which implies that the candidates’ marks were accepted without any changes.”
Mhlanga labelled Jansen a major disappointment to “the noble profession of researchers in that he makes statements relating to such an important matter based on suspicion”.
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He said it was interesting that Jansen uses one criterion to determine quality and, based on a percentage of distinctions, to make claims that the Western Cape outpaces the other provinces.
“Quality is that which the entire system is pursuing. We are aware quality is based on a host of indicators and the number of distinctions is but one such factor. Hence, his judgment in this regard is seriously skewed. Jansen, get your facts straight first before you start typing your next piece about basic education.”