I was reminded of two schoolmates, by the Education Department's announcement that it would no longer have matric results published in the media.
The news has ignited a debate, with some wanting results published, some against, and some advocating giving pupils the choice. Naturally, it came as a particular disappointment to me as the editor of a Saturday paper, which would have had the rare opportunity to publish the results and benefit from the bumper sales it would bring. (See page 4)
One of the aforementioned schoolmates would forge his father’s signature on his progress reports, and the second had secretly switched to the old standard grade maths in matric ‒ the “shame” of not doing higher grade would have been too much for his parents.
One of the main arguments against publishing the results is that pupils who perform badly may commit suicide out of shame.
But my experience has been that pupils are most afraid of not meeting their parents’ expectations, rather than caring about what society thinks of their results.
As I have said previously, this is a time of heightened stress for pupils, and parents should temper their hopes in line with past performance.
Rather than engaging in recriminations if they perform badly, do as you did when they fell and scraped their knees as children: pick them up, kiss them, soothe the hurt, assure them of your love and send them on with an encouraging word.
The Independent on Saturday