Department, Umalusi won’t make public details of subject adjustment

2011-01-07 07:23

The matric pass rate has improved to 67.8% but there was a dark blanket over the adjustment of marks made in 19 subjects.

Questions were raised about an improvement of more than 7% in a year during which there were disruptions due to the five-week vacation in June, brought about by the 2010 Fifa World Cup, and the 17-day teachers’ strike.

However, Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education, expressed her pleasure that 364?514 full-time learners passed out of 637?543 when she announced the results at the Union Buildings in Pretoria yesterday.

“It represents an impressive increase of a whopping 7.2% on the 2009 results (60.6%), just 2.8% short of 10%.

I guess the teachers’ strike robbed us of this percentage and hope that with more support for supplementary exams we will be able to get the additional (3%),” she said.

Motshekga said over the years the country had endeavoured to achieve a national pass rate of at least 70%.

“Last year I renewed this commitment, by putting upfront our target of achieving 10% improvement by 2014.”

But, the Department of Basic Education and Umalusi, the quality assurer, were happy to announce that raw marks were accepted in 39 subjects for the class of 2010.

And, that in nine other subjects marks were adjusted upwards and in 10 others the adjustments were downwards.

Both the department and the council (Umalusi) flatly refused to reveal which subjects had marks adjusted.

Bobby Soobrayan, basic education director-general, shifted the matter to Umalusi, saying the department did not have control over standardisation.

“We set those question papers and we don’t quality assure them, but Umalusi does. It is a matter that they can respond to.

He added that questions should be whether the education system was maturing and whether a robust quality assurance institution had been set up in Umalusi, which had itself matured.

Last week at an Umalusi conference on standardisation of the exams, Dr Sizwe Mabizela, Umalusi chairperson, declined to name the subjects.

He said it was against Umalusi policy to do so, but refused to indicate which policy he was referring to.

It would be the department’s prerogative to reveal that information, Mabizela said.

Only the smaller teacher union, the National Teachers Union (Natu), voiced displeasure at the secrecy around the adjustments.

Sibusiso Mchunu, Natu vice-president, said while the union appreciated the improvement, it was frustrated by the fact that it was unknown whether it was Zulu or maths that was adjusted upwards or down.

“If we knew that information, we would be able to act accordingly by focusing on that particular subject.

We also asked about this at our meeting with the department last night (Wednesday evening) but there was no answer,” Mchunu said.

Other teacher unions, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, the Suid Afrikanse Onderwysersunie and Professional Educators’ Union declared their satisfaction with the results.

They all said it was a true reflection of the hard work of their members and that it showed teachers could thrive under pressure.

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