Matric results a ‘circus’

2013-02-21 00:00

POLITICIANS and a dire education system came in for a public roasting by social analyst, critic and Free State University vice chancellor Professor Jonathan Jansen in Durban last night.

Jansen was his typical provocative self as he kept a crowd of 200 people crammed into a ballroom at the Elangeni Hotel entertained for an hour.

He was a guest speaker invited by the Democracy Development Programme, a non-government organisation that promotes activism among citizens.

Jansen attacked Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga in particular for gloating over the matric pass rate of 70% achieved last year.

He pointed to a slide that showed how less than a quarter of the same matric class would have passed if the pass requirement of 50% instead of 30% had been applied to life science subjects. Jansen asked: “Why do we accept this crap in a democracy?”

He hammered the annual “circus” of announcing matric results and the focus on the pass rate, and berated as “idiots” those who applauded alongside Motshekga hoping to score political points.

But he also offered hope in the form of two Durban schools, Kingsway High and Menzi High, which he visited yesterday unannounced.

He told how Menzi was a hive of activity and how, despite barely any infrastructure, the school excelled through the hard work of its teachers and pupils.

Jansen said he and his wife took on sponsoring one of the school’s outstanding matriculants last year.

Inevitably, Jansen seized upon race. He took over the helm of the university shortly after a controversial race incident at a residence in 2009 in which four white students humiliated black staff and recorded it on video.

He then showed through pictures and stories how the university’s student body had learnt to heal and integrate.“They transformed themselves,” he said.

The tough-talking Jansen was full of humour too and apologised to a nun in the audience for some choice words. In his most sobering words he dwelled on the conduct of men in South African society.

He questioned how the country had raised its boys, putting too much stock in resolving conflicts with brawn instead of brains.

“We live in a country where men think with their muscles instead of their minds.”

Jansen signed off on a positive note, though, saying he had seen evidence of the country’s future, a better one, in his students.

He couldn’t resist one last dig at the establishment, however.

“Together we go down or together we rise. I just wish the political parties understood that.”

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