The publication of matric results in the countries major newspapers has become an yearly tradition in South Africa, but there has been some debate whether results should still be published in this manner come January. This comes after Basic Education minister, Angie Motshekga, early this year recommended the tradition be done away with. A ministerial task team was subsequently set up to look into the matter, resolving that the publications could result in serious consequences for students.
Amongst the central concerns for students who fail to pass is the negative psychological impact the publication of results will have on them. In recent years, there have been reports of spikes in the rate of teen suicides around the time the results are released. Furthermore, many of those students would likely be forced to celebrate the achievements of their peers.
Educational analyst, Graeme Bloch, was in agreement with the possible dropping of this tradition. He further highlighted the case of those students who dropped out of school before reaching matric, saying that they were also not helped by the issue.
The final decision on whether to continue the publication of names remains in the air, with no decision having yet been taken despite the report having already been published. But Bloch said any decision would have to be considered carefully by the department, and that all recommendations are deemed adequate enough to be implemented.
“It’s about 20% of the kids who don’t make it, so I think the sooner it is done the better. Obviously there is a COSAS campaign as well, but you don’t to just do it because COSAS are saying don’t publish it. However, I think the report is also saying don’t publish it,” he noted.
Despite suggestions of higher suicide rates, he said the main consequence was that those who failed would be subject to extreme embarrassment.
“We’ve heard that some commit suicide and that’s terrible. If they don’t make it they find out on the lists, rather than from the schools,” he said.
What was more concerning than the failure rate though, was the percentage of students that failed to even reach their 12th year. According to a report published at the beginning of 2014, only 34. 8% of pupils who started school in 2002 made it through to and passed matric in 2013.
Despite the criticism, Bloch noted the publication of results did have its positives. Apart from upping to confidence of many students, it also brought about a sense of transparency in the whole process.
“We see pictures every year of people looking at newspapers. So how are they going to be informed timeously? That’s the question,” he said. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)