Hands off Minister Angie Motshekga!

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2019 Matric students from Curtis Nkondo School of Specialisation in Soweto Emndeni jumping in excitement as one of the best performing schools in Soweto.

The eighty one point three (81.3) national percent matric pass rate in 2019 has sent shock waves to many who believed it could never never be done.

Instead of jumping into jamboree celebration over the fact that at last, the “doors of learning and teaching have been opened for all” as pronounced in the Freedom Charter, many prophets of doom have embarked on a crusade to tarnish and discredit the positive strides that the basic education sector has made under the auspices of mme Angie Motshekga.

Mainstream media is now flooded with articles on how fabricated and how much of a hoax the matric pass rate is. Leading the peck in this regard are the two main opposition parties in the country. That is, the Democratic Alliance (DA) (always trapped in the past and nostalgic of the yester-years when things were still under the white administration which apparently got the education and the economy right) and their unholy alliance partner, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

The conduct of these two parties is indicative of the fact that opposition parties in this country have a narrow and distorted understanding of what it means to be an opposition party. They have proven to believe that to be an opposition party means you should always oppose and arrest progress.

The DA has since made an effort to pull out statistics of the learners who had enrolled for grade 10 in 2017 which according to the DA was over a million ( 1 052 082 learners to be more precise) and compared it with the number of learners who have matriculated in 2019 which is below half a million (that is, 409 906). The failure of these learners to reach matric is attributed entirely to the basic education sector and in particular mme Angie.

However, an accurate account of the matric pass rate does not require Mathematical abstractions as the DA has since plunged into – it only requires simple basic logic as we shall soon learn.

Let me give an example to illustrate this point; if a livestock farmer drives 100 cattle to the marketplace to sell them to a potential buyer but it so happens that along the way, 50 of the cattle die of hunger, diseases or because of other illnesses. Should the seller get to the marketplace and charge the buyer even for the cattle which could not reach the marketplace?

The point being made here is that the road to matric is fraught with far too many challenges, others internal to the the basic education sector and still others external to it. It is therefore very disingenuous to attribute a societal problem like the failure of over half million learners to reach matric to one sector.

A month does not pass in South Africa before we read a story in the news about a learner who stabbed a teacher or another learner. Teenage pregnancy in the country shoot straight into the stratosphere- learners sleep with each other and others with their teachers.

Alcohol and drug abuse make the order of the day in our schools. Such is the magnitude of the problems that confront us as a society. To get to a point where we will all be content with the national matric pass rate, everyone will have to play their part, each and every failure in the basic education sector must be attributed to allow of us. As the old age African proverb says: “it takes a village to raise a child.”

But because the DA exists in its own cloud cuckoo land where all learners and the rest of society are innocent, it has embarked on a cheap politicking crusade that ignores the disintegration of our society. However, the DA is not in government, it must not be allowed to drag this country backward and arrest its progress! The 38. 9 percent pass rate that the DA has since announced must only be applicable to its de facto independent state called the Western Cape where it governs with its own Constitution!

Lehumo Sejaphala is the Founder and Editor-in-chief of the Voiceless (www.thevoiceless.co.za) , a blogger (lehumosejaphala.wordpress.com) and a final year LLB student at the University of the Witwatersrand.