Afrikaans schools produced 16% of SA’s maths distinctions – not 88%

Comments 2

Author and Afrikaner activist Dan Roodt incorrectly tweeted that pupils from Afrikaans schools bagged 88% of the country's mathematics distinctions.

Afrikaans schools produce almost all of South Africa’s mathematics distinctions, according to author and Afrikaner activist, Dan Roodt.

“88% of maths distinctions in S. Africa come from Afrikaans schools (5% of schools). So ANC wants to destroy them #whitegenocide,” Roodt tweeted earlier this year.

At the time of publishing this report, this tweet has been retweeted over 100 times and “liked” more than 130 times.

Roodt misquoted Afrikaner NGO Helpende Hand

Africa Check asked Roodt on Twitter for the source of his claim. He tagged the head of Solidariteit Helpende Hand, an NGO aimed at preventing Afrikaner poverty, who linked to a year-old statement from January 2016.

It stated that in South Africa’s 2015 public school-leavers exam, 358 Afrikaans high schools (5.3%) achieved 2,193 math distinctions (28.2%) – not 88% as Roodt tweeted. In South African schools a distinction is a score of between 80% and 100%.

However, Helpende Hand’s math education specialist, Valentyn van der Merwe, told Africa Check that it includes all schools that offer Afrikaans as home language in their calculation, not only the schools where the official teaching language is Afrikaans. The list he provided therefore included schools such as Breidbach Senior Secondary School in King William’s Town and Relebohile Sibulele Cs in Smithfield in the Free State in addition to well-known Afrikaans schools such as Hoërskool Jan van Riebeeck in Cape Town and Afrikaans Hoër Meisieskool in Pretoria. 

Using this method, Helpende Hand calculated that “more or less” 721 Afrikaans schools achieved 2,576 math distinctions in 2016, or 31.9% of the total.

‘Many Afrikaans schools changed language policy’

At the department of basic education, national system administrator Willie Venter pulled data to help us check the claim.

A school’s official language is determined by its registered “language of learning and teaching”. This is the language in which “learning and teaching, including assessment, takes place”.

The data Venter provided showed that 2,000 schools produced 8,070 maths distinctions in 2016. A total of 4,511 schools did not produce any maths distinctions.

The department’s data showed that 132 official Afrikaans schools (6.6% of schools) produced 1,307 maths distinctions (16.2% of the total distinctions).

Double medium schools – where there are two official languages of instruction – produced 13.3% of the maths distinctions. The department’s chief director of communications and media liaison, Elijah Mhlanga, told Africa Check that “many traditional Afrikaans schools have changed their language policy to double medium”.

Even if we give Roodt the benefit of the doubt and combine the results from official Afrikaans schools and dual medium schools, the share only rises to 29.5%.

Conclusion: Afrikaans schools produced 16.2% of maths distinctions, not 88%

Dan Roodt’s claim that “88% of maths distinctions in [South Africa] come from Afrikaans schools” is not supported by data from the department of basic education.

The most recent data from the 2016 school leaving examinations shows that 132 Afrikaans language schools produced 1,307 maths distinctions (16.2%).

The majority of maths distinctions (69.6%) were produced by English language schools.

Edited by Anim van Wyk

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Comment on this report

Comments 2
  1. By Gerhard

    Please go an attend a class in statistics, you cannot exclude the number of schools that did not achieve any distinctions, just as you cannot only count the afrikaans schools who did achieve distinctions. Anyway the statements on both sides does not say much, I assume the original statement was in response of the current ANC led politicians to abolish Afrikaans based schools….. remember 1976 …. when will they ever learn.

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