There I was driving home from work as Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga was announcing the 2012 matric results.
One would be unpatriotic, I feel, if one doesn't share in the Minister's excitement over the increased pass rate: up from 70,2% in 2011 to 73,9% in 2012.
[Applause and ululate.]
But as I was listening to her telling the country how each province's matrics did - and particularly how three of the low performers of the past improved their results this time around - I was filled with this weird sense of something strange happening.
It was difficult to find the appropriate word for it, and I refused to think conspiracy theories...
Still, it was surprising to hear that the Northern Cape improved from 68,8% to a whopping 74,6% despite the disruptions in education experienced in the province last year.
It was equally strange to hear that the Eastern Cape, where teachers were at times not teaching, jumped (though modestly) from 58,1% to 61,6%; and then, of course, that the chronic low performing Limpopo's results increased from 63,9% to 66,9%.
That wasn't the biggest surprise in the Minister's announcement of the results, though. The biggest surprise concerned 2011's top achiever, the Western Cape, down from 82,9% to 82,8%.
Percentages, as we all know, can be deceiving. It does not tell you, for instance, that despite the decrease in the Western Cape's pass rate a record number of matrics passed in the province: 36 992 versus 2011's 33 146.
That has put the inquisitive mind at work, trying to figure out whether this was purely a coincidence or whether "other forces" were at work here, that is to say whether there was a secret plan to ensure that the (DA-governed) Western Cape won't be able to claim top of the class again this year and in the process show up the ANC-led provinces?
Of course, this is just pure speculation.
But considering the kind of percentages of improvement for the named provinces and the (insignificant) percentage of decrease for the Western Cape one can't help but scratch ones head.
Consider also the fact that Gauteng's beating the Western Cape to the top spot was due to a jump of 2,8% from 81,1% in 2011 to 83,9% in 2012 - a mere 1,1% difference.
Would it be presumptuous to call on Western Cape premier Helen Zille to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry into the accuracy of the results?
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