I HAVE been trying, woefully unsuccessfully, to be issued with my daughter's 2010 matric certificate. Although I have been in contact with the Education Department in Port Elizabeth and Bhisho, been brushed off, put off, and told off, I am yet to make progress.
My quest began last year after all of my daughter's classmates received their certificates via their school (Theodor Herzl High School), but hers was inexplicably absent. After the school's secretarial assistant, Haydee Breedt, attempted some unsuccessful telephoning around we were finally directed to a complaints form.
My sense of accomplishment and relief was very short-lived, however when, on attempting to fax through the completed form, it failed to transmit. When I then tried to phone the number cited on the form for assistance, that number too remained unanswered.
I then took myself down to the PE Education Department. A Mr Hakula, helped me to wade through a pile of undelivered matric certificates (some dating back many years) in an attempt to locate my daughter's, all to no avail.
In June this year, I again phoned Hakula to ascertain whether my daughter's certificate had at last been located, whereupon he directed me to a Mr Pathi of the Bisho Education Department. (A few weeks subsequent to this, my daughter's fiance popped in to see Hakula on the off-chance that some progress had been made with locating her certificate, only to be informed by Hakula that he had never heard of my daughter, or of her missing certificate!)
After getting Pathi's telephone number from Hakula, and being advised by him (what I considered jokingly) not to phone after 11am as no phones would be answered after this time in the morning I bravely soldiered on, phoning after 11 on the following day. After getting no response, I then meekly telephoned before 11am the next day.
After explaining my situation to Pathi, he asked me to phone him the following morning, which I did. He informed me that the mistake was Umalusi's, which had simply neglected to print my daughter's certificate and that now, having been made aware of the oversight by him, would quickly remedy their error.
Phoning Pathi a week later I had to remind him of my entire story (leaving me with very little confidence that any effort or communication with Umalusi, had, in fact, been effected.) Pathi, however, assured me that Umalusi had been informed and all that remained now was simply to wait for the delivery of the newly printed certificate.
Over the next two months I tried, unsuccessfully to raise Pathi on the phone (even before 11am) so, in desperation, I re-contacted Hakula (PE Education Department), re-stating my problem. He directed me to a Mr Keva, also of PE.
Upon contacting an irascible and rather grumpy Keva and explaining my situation, he asked that I phone him back with all of my daughter's personal matric details. I immediately contacted Breedt at Theodor, who then phoned Keva with all the necessary information, but still no progress.
In the meantime, I continued to try to contact Pathi, who I eventually managed to reach only to be told it was impossible at this juncture to raise anyone at Umalusi because they were now busy with the new Caps syllabus and had shut down all their printing operations. He would, nevertheless, make the necessary enquiries on my behalf.
After another week, and no response, I again contacted Pathi. Expressing my desperation and exasperation, and suggesting that my only recourse might now have to be to approach the newspaper, Pathi promised he would once again approach his supervisor for direction and would phone me forthwith – a call for which I am still waiting!
While this incident might simply be put down to be yet another irritating case of Education Department inept bumbling, it does have rather major ramifications for my daughter's future. She is busy with her undergraduate studies for which she was accepted on the strength of a copy of her final matric "statement of results" (as issued to the school by the department).
However, on attempting to climb the next rung of the educational ladder (post-graduate studies), any varsity to which she will next apply will require her to supply it with not only the results of her undergraduate studies, but also with a copy of her matric certificate.
I am at my wits end as to who to apply to for assistance. I am deeply disturbed by the farcical dissembling and gross ineffectiveness shown by our Education Department.
We all know that education is in crisis in our province, and after this eye- opening experience, I am left in no doubt as to the reason why.
Where to from here, Minister Angie Motshekga?
Penny Shaw, mother, Lorraine, Port Elizabeth