When “contacts leak” matric results

Elated matriculants Patricia Kayoyo, Eminie Mthombeni, Zizipho Ntsangani and Primrose Mthembu from The Settlers High School in Bellville in high spirits after receiving their matric results yesterday. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency/ANA

My son, Sachin finished matric with a healthy 5 distinctions. Well done lad, I am really proud of you.  For him and even more for us as parents, the week leading to the results day 5 January was one filled with trepidation. It did not help us when child after child called him proudly informing that they got their results, which filled us with dismay.  You see we don’t have “contacts!” More on this later.

It also did not help that we “lost” his file with matric exam number amongst other things. As we adore Fikile Mbalula we decided not to report this and increase crime statistics which will make him look bad. My son, however, proved his resourcefulness and forensic capability by reconstructing his exam number.

We nervously sat the night of 4th January awaiting his results. My close and elderly family from Ladysmith, the Juggernaths, also stayed up in solidarity. They even went out bought the local newspaper and then called us in the middle of the night. Such was the drama and interest. This I am certain occurred in every family with a matriculant.

So how do we reconcile getting matric results through contacts before release date?  How sad is it that after 12 years of education, you proudly inform your child “I have a contact for the results!” You have trivialized 12 years of education with one misguided act of bravado.

We fought to become a democracy. This means you are exactly the same as every other parent of the 600 000 matriculants that wrote with your child. Now you increase this priority, and your child becomes more equal than others?

On the night of the 4th you will have been part of a gloating minority that already have their kids results. I do suspect that you missed out on a great opportunity to unite your family. It really is a good feeling to be human even ordinary. Regrettably, you will need to pull this card again and again. This is the slippery slope which is my annual bee in my bonnet.

We must start becoming a society that queues. That waits. Cape Town calls this the broken windows syndrome, where they fix small problems as they appear. Singapore famously punishes offending ‘spitters’ and smokers who smoke in public or throw cigarette stubs. New York tackled petty crime before it tackled the bigger ones.

Parents, if you did this and did not consider it this way … I forgive you.  If you think this is a serious case of sour grapes… perhaps. I am not perfect.  A rehabilitating scoundrel is much more accurate.  But I will be damned if my lack of respect and discretion crosses the generation gap in my family.  They are just some things much more important than contacts.

To my contacts I say thank you but no thank you. You are well-meaning although you miss the bigger picture.

Off course, we can use technology to take all of this partisanship away – just release the results online or through SMS. Do this a few hours after the bright learners deservedly have their moment in the sun. Please don’t make us, the people, wait all night.

I understand the original reasons, but after 12 years of Life Orientation and high symbols, in that subject, surely your kid is equipped enough to deal with their own results?

As a very nervous parent, I respect every matriculating family as one cohort.  It is our pain, our misery and our glory as one collective. The 6th belongs to the people. You and your child will prevail.

Now to see if my lad got a place at university! Do you have any contacts? Even at the EFF Command Centre, maybe? I do have this contact who know someone, who knows someone, who…

Learners do something with yourself, whichever way you got your results, and whatever your results. Talk to many people as possible for advice. I offer my support to learners. Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

Dr Colin Thakur is a digital activist who is committed to the dream of “one person, one connected device.” He is the KZN e-Skills CoLab Director, located at the Durban University of Technology.