‘I was expecting a bloodbath.’ It is a bloodbath, Angie!

Ideas

‘I was expecting a bloodbath.’ It is a bloodbath, Angie!

For a number of reasons, including political interference, the results are unlikely to reflect actual academic outcomes

Columnist

The pass percentage for inmates writing the grade 12 (NSC) exam was 86.3%, but only 76.2% for those in regular school. You are, therefore, more likely to get a good pass in prison than in school. Parents should weigh these options when making decisions about where to enrol their children.

You do not need a degree in numbers to recognise the nonsense logic in those statements. Yet when you have large amounts of data at your disposal, you can make any number of seemingly authoritative claims to bamboozle the public. This is exactly what the minister of basic education and her DG, Mathanzima Mweli, did again this week, except there is a tragic backdrop to the annual deception — a pandemic that has claimed more than 49,000 souls of which upwards of 2,000 were staff who worked at schools.

It could have been worse, minister Angie Motshekga exclaimed about the drop of 5.1% in the “matric” pass rate: “I was expecting a bloodbath.” There must be a term in psychology for this sleight of hand: accept the bad news because if it were not for me, you would be in even bigger trouble. Well, there is every indication that there was a bloodbath up and down the school system. So let’s take a closer look, but let me first say the obvious...

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