Equal Education Law Centre backs decision to block media from publishing individual's matric results

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  • Equal Education Law Centre commended the decision by the education department to not have media publish matric results.
  • They believe the decision prioritises pupils' privacy rights and mental health.
  • However, it called on the department to make sure that pupils who can't go to their schools will still get their results quickly.

The Equal Education Law Centre supports the Department of Basic Education's decision not to allow the media to publish matric results this year because it would violate the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).

"Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) commends the decision taken by the Department of Basic Education to comply with the POPIA in furtherance of the rights to privacy and dignity of learners, some of who are children at the time that their results are published," centre deputy director Robyn Deere said on Tuesday.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga

"The decision not only complies with the law, but also prioritises learners' mental health, which has in the past been placed at significant risk with the publication of results in national newspapers."

On Monday, the department informed media houses that they would not be allowed to publish the results because this would violate POPIA.

AS IT HAPPENED | Education dept will release Matric results differently this year due to POPI Act

"In order to comply with the provisions of the POPIA, the usual practice of publishing the national senior certificate (NSC) results on public platforms (media platforms) will not occur for 2021," read a letter addressed "TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN", dated 10 January.

"As was also the practice in previous years, all learners will be required to obtain their statement of results from the schools they attended. In this way, every learner's personal information with regards to the outcome of their national senior certificate exam will be protected."

It was not immediately clear whether schools would be allowed to post results to pupils who had relocated, or whether the department's SMS line would still continue.

The EELC said that while it welcomed the development, some pupils may find it difficult to get their results directly from the schools they attended.

"It is therefore important to ensure that other avenues to obtain results are available for learners, such as through SMS or WhatsApp communication, as well as securely online in compliance with the POPIA."

The updated POPIA came into effect on 1 July 2021.

Last year, results were published.

Equal Education is a pupils' rights advocacy group run mainly by school pupils. The EELC is a law clinic that works on education reform, and takes on cases and provides legal advice at no charge.

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