Professor Jonathan Jansen File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – With the focus on the 2018 matric results, Professor Jonathan Jansen on Thursday questioned the emphasis being placed on the number of distinctions obtained.

Stellenbosch University's Jansen wrote on Twitter on Thursday: "What is the point about seeking and getting 8 distinctions in Grade 12? Are these really smart students or the victims of poor mentorship? Ever hear from them again? How many of them become great leaders?"

This comes as the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) celebrated a 98.92% pass rate, comparable with last year’s pass rate of 98.76%, on Thursday. 

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga will announce the matric pass rate for the class of 2018 tonight. The class of 2017 achieved a pass rate of 75.1%, up from 72.5% in 2016.

The IEB results didn't impress Jansen, who tweeted on Thursday: "IEB pass percentage is 98.92. If everybody passes, what’s the point of an examination? 

"Are their students therefore smarter than those doing the government exams? So what was all the fuss about ‘higher standards?' "

The "creme de la creme" of the country's public schooling were lauded by Motshekga, who challenged the 29 top 2018 matrics to "take the country out of underdevelopment", at a breakfast briefing in Midrand on Thursday.

Jansen told Netwerk24 that although matrics who work hard are worthy of praise, he believes schools are guilty of conveying the wrong message. According to Jansen, the top achievers become "victims of their own success" in the end.

Jansen said impressive matric results cannot serve as a guide for future success at university, emphasising that the "students who stood out at university weren't the ones with the best marks, but those who worked hard, showed comprehension and got on well with others".

"Kids work very hard to live up to the expectations of their parents and teachers, but good mentorship is far more important. Schools teach children to remember information."

Last month, Jansen said lowering university entry requirements is "a move to mediocrity".

Students would need a minimum of 30% in the language of learning and teaching at the institution they want to enter, together with an achievement of between 50-59% in four 20-credit National Senior Certificate subjects.