Top matric achievers and parents have to give consent to attend results event
It is unclear whether all 27 top achievers in last year’s matric exams will attend an event next week where the results will be released because the pupils and their parents will have to give consent.
This comes in the wake of a notice this week from department of basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga confirming that media houses will no longer be able to publish the matric results because of the Protection of Personal Information Act (Popia).
The move signals the end to the tradition of pupils waiting anxiously outside newspaper houses and on street corners on the eve of the results being published to get a copy of the newspaper.
A notice dated January 10 stated the department recognises that section 14 of the constitution provides everyone has the Right to privacy.
“This right to privacy includes a right to protection against the unlawful collection, retention, dissemination and use of personal information.
“To comply with the provisions of the Popia, the usual practice of publishing the national senior certificate (NSC) results on public platforms [media platforms] will not occur for 2021,” the notice stated.
At a briefing on Tuesday on the department’s state of readiness for 2022, deputy education minister Reginah Mhaule said Popia would be adhered to for the 27 top achievers.
“It’s easy to get consent because it’s a very small number and I believe their parents also may be looking forward to that. Every pupil would want to be seen as achieving better in the country,” she said.
“If it’s negative regarding consent, it will remain negative.”
The department’s director-general Mathanzima Mweli said Popia dictates that the department must follow certain procedures “which we are not able to follow now”.
This included getting the consent of pupils and their parents or guardians before the personal information of pupils can be shared.
Large numbers of pupils still unplaced
Meanwhile, it emerged Gauteng has been able to place 86% of applicants seeking placement in schools.
Mweli said part of the problem with placements had to do with parental preferences for a particular school.
“Understandably, a parent would like to get his or her child into the best school. Our challenge and responsibility is to make sure all our schools are able to meet the expectations and requirements of our parents,” he said.
According to the department, the number of unplaced pupils in the provinces are:
- Gauteng: 276,030;
- Eastern Cape: 1,898;
- Free State: 17,712;
- KwaZulu-Natal: 1,406;
- Limpopo: 1,905;
- Mpumalanga: 6,458;
- Northern Cape: 86,553;
- North West: 9,529; and
- Western Cape: 19,783.
A deputy director-general in the department, Simone Geyer, said challenges concerning placement included:
- Informal settlements that spring up around established communities due to the influx from rural to urban areas present a challenge, as it is difficult to predict expected numbers ahead of the new year.
- English medium schools perceived as providing “better quality” face an annual challenge of managing and accommodating all the applications received.
- Insufficient schools in urban areas and demand for spaces at schools of choice.
- Tension between the rights of school governing bodies to determine the admissions policy in terms of the SA Schools Act and the Right of parents to access education at schools of their choice; and
- In provinces where pupils are admitted on a “first come, first served basis”, local pupils who do not apply on time experience challenges with placement.
She said in preparation for the reopening of schools, the department identified risk areas and requested provinces to provide remedial actions.
The areas of focus included new schools, renovations and repairs as well as storm-damaged and vandalised schools.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga said rotational learning will continue because one-metre social distancing requirements in the classroom were still in place.
“We encouraged schools that are able to accommodate pupils with a reduced social distancing of a metre to do that.”
She said they presented a submission to the national coronavirus command council last year to have the social distancing requirement reduced from 1.5m to half a metre but were not granted the concession. Instead, it was reduced to one metre.
Only 80% of pupils returned to class on a full-time basis last year.
“We are also aware there are schools that will, in terms of the protocol, not be able to take more pupils. We have requested provinces to work on providing infrastructure to schools that were technically over-crowded before Covid-19.”
Motshekga said in view of the decision by the country to “live side-by-side with the virus”, they will appeal again to the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs to reduce the social distancing to half a metre.
“We can’t just announce to say tomorrow every child ‘voetstoots skool toe’. It’s a process we have to negotiate.”
Schools will reopen for pupils in inland provinces — Gauteng, the Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West — on Wednesday and for coastal provinces — KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape — on January 19.