The civil rights organisation AfriForum, Maroela Media and Anlé Spies (a 2021 matriculant) on Friday served court papers on amongst others Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, opposing the departments sudden decision not to publish the 2021 matric results in the media.
According to Natasha Venter, Manager for Education Rights at AfriForum, the public excitement that accompanies the publication of matric results in the media serves as motivation for future matriculants.
“To water down the magnitude of the occasion, will eventually undermine the pursuit of excellence in education,” said Venter.
The matric results will be released on 20 January and Afriforum wants its arguments to be heard before then.
“The Department cannot hide behind the Protection of Personal Information Act, 4 of 2013 (POPIA) to justify this irrational decision,” insists Venter.
“Only the examination numbers of the students are published on media platforms, in other words, no personal information or the identities of learners will be made public without their consent.”
Afriforum is of the opinion that information must (within the ambit of the law) be freely available in a democratic country and this is a principle that the Department should support.
The urgent application is scheduled for 18 January at the North Gauteng High Court before the matric results are made available on 20 January 2022.
The Information Regulator of South Africa said it supported the department’s decision not to publish the matric results.
The regulator said the DBE is empowered to decide on how to bring its actions or decisions in compliance with POPIA.
But, the move away from publishing results has had some support, specifically from those who have argued that the publishing of the results on public platforms led to undue pressure on the pupils, impacting their mental health, anxiety, and ultimately leading to suicide.
“We have had cases before where pupils killed themselves because their names were not in the paper. Only to find out that it was a technical problem, they have actually passed, said Mpendulo Skosana who sat for the 2021 NSC examinations at Makhosana Secondary School in Mpumalanga.
“Also, the method is used by bullies to humiliate their targets. I am glad this has stopped,” he said.
Additional reporting by Sipho Mabena