Johannesburg - An administrative blunder has left Limpopo Education MEC Dikeledi Magadzi with egg on her face.
On Tuesday, Magadzi confidently claimed not a single school in the province had obtained a zero percent matric pass rate.
“No, we don’t have a school that totally failed, but we have schools that performed dismally,” Magadzi said during a media briefing at the time.
But, two days later, her department contradicted her claim. It announced that, in fact, two schools had a zero percent pass rate in the exams.
On Wednesday, department spokesman Phuti Seloba confirmed that all 23 pupils at Seemole Maraba Secondary School in Ga-Mashashane village in the Capricorn district had failed, as had all the matrics at Mantlhanyane Secondary School in the Sekhukhune district.
Eight pupils from the school wrote the exam.
Immediately after Magadzi had announced the provincial matric results on Tuesday, the DA released a statement expressing concerns about aspects of her speech.
“(What is) furthermore concerning about today’s (Tuesday’s) announcement is that the MEC has not mentioned whether there are schools which received a zero percent pass rate,” said DA MPL Desiree van der Walt.
Asked on Thursday about the zero percent remark, Seloba said Magadzi hadn’t been aware of the two schools and department officials who were privy to the information had not informed her.
“As the department, we have to take full responsibility for what the MEC has said,” said Seloba, adding that the responsible officials would be read the riot act.
Magadzi herself has threatened harsh action against principals whose schools did not obtain a 60 percent overall pass rate.
“To those principals who did not pull up their socks to improve their school results, action – and very serious action – will be taken this year,” she said.
“Principals should regard themselves as chief executive officers of companies who are accounting to the shareholders. In this instance, we are referring to parents.”
The latest disclosure emerges in the wake of a call by DA leader and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille for an independent probe into the credibility of the 2013 matric results.
“The credibility of the 2013 results has already been called into question by a number of educational experts, who pointed out that the results are too far a departure from the trends over the last several years,” Zille said.
All nine provinces improved their pass rate, which resulted in a national 78.2 percent pass rate.
President Jacob Zuma has slammed Zille’s suggestion of an exam audit.
“They used to say a black person will never pass well. I heard a white person saying, ‘There should be an investigation, they can’t pass like this’. They are still suffering from that old thing… that a black person is not smart,” Zuma told Mpumalanga residents this week.