IEB was born to defy separatist ideology in education

Image: 123RF/TEERAWUT MASAWAT

The purpose for the establishment of the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) was to challenge the apartheid ideology of separation on the basis of race and actively support inclusivity in education.

This is in direct opposition to the separatist ideology behind the establishment of Orania.

The IEB is an educational institution with deep roots in the democratic history of our country. The IEB was founded at a point where the old apartheid state insisted that children write different exams based on race even if they had all gone to the same school together.

Its very existence grew out of a commitment to educational and democratic principles.

In the late 1980s, when the Joint Matriculation Board (JMB) announced that it would cease to function as an examining authority in South Africa, a number of principals at independent schools that had decided to stop using race as a criteria for admission took the initiative of establishing an organisation that would assume the examining function of the JMB - and hence the IEB was born.

This group of principals refused to accept that they would not be able to continue to function as open schools - they would have been forced to become racially restrictive schools as there would be no examining authority in SA that was not racially defined, if the JMB closed.

In order to continue to function on an open basis, they would have had to run multiple programmes at the schools to accommodate the different racially based examinations. The only other option open to them would have been an international examination.

Running multiple programmes was considered educationally
unsound and a waste of resources. Furthermore, since the reason for the multiple programmes was motivated by a political position, it was equally as unacceptable as writing an international examination.

These schools considered themselves to be South African schools, serving South African learners predominantly and serving the South African nation - they were proud of their South African heritage and their standards of education.

Their learners coped equally well in overseas universities as they did in South African universities; they were proud of their diverse composition, a statement in defiance of the political order of the day.

The IEB was born as an organisation of civil society, standing in opposition to a system that at the time was democratically and educationally unacceptable.

The provisions of our constitution in respect of education include the right to establish independent or private educational institutions, subject to the provision of non-discrimination.

There is allowance for the establishment of public and independent schools, public and private further education and training institutions, public and private higher education institutions and finally public and private assessment bodies.

All operate within the terms of applicable legislation, just as we have privately owned and state-owned companies.

There is no such thing as "an IEB education system" or "an IEB certificate". There is only one school-leaving qualification in South Africa, namely the National Senior Certificate. It is issued by Umalusi to all learners who meet the requirements of matric qualification.

Learners attending state schools, IEB schools or institutions linked to the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute who successfully complete their Grade 12 year receive a certificate issued by Umalusi.

The IEB supports the position that actively promoting quality education for every SA citizen is fundamental in establishing a just, open society based on democratic values.

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