Matric: changes on the horizon

2014-08-03 15:00

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The matric pass mark won’t change much, but a task team appointed by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has recommended that maths become a compulsory subject for all high school pupils.

The task team, which probed the credibility and integrity of the National Senior Certificate, has called for only a minimal increase in the matric pass mark. If it has its way, pupils who wish to qualify to study towards a diploma will need to get 50% in the language of teaching and learning, a jump from the 30% required previously.

The team’s recommendations, which City Press has seen, also include retaining maths literacy as a subject, but launching a campaign to educate pupils about the difference between maths and maths literacy, and the value and role of the two in society.

This week, Motshekga revealed in Parliament that 327 schools across the country did not offer maths.

A task team appointed by Basic Education Minister Angie ­Motshekga to probe the state of South Africa’s matric ­certificate has recommended that all high school pupils be forced to take maths as a subject.

The task team, which probed the credibility and integrity of the National Senior Certificate, has also recommended a minimal increase in the matric pass mark.

Some of the team’s recommendations, which City Press has seen, include:

» The removal of life orientation for Grade 12s, which will see the number of subjects drop from seven to six;

»?The introduction of an exit certificate at Grade 9 – which will allow pupils to leave with some form of qualification;

»?Forcing all schools to offer maths and all pupils to take the subject. This week, Motshekga revealed in Parliament that about 327 schools across the country do not offer maths as a subject;

»?Retaining maths literacy, but launching a national campaign to educate pupils about the difference between maths and maths literacy, and the value and role of the two in society;

»?Exploring the broadening of the National Senior Certificate to include a vocational pathway, and the ­introduction of the National Certificate Vocational in technical high schools;

.?Retaining and implementing the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements for the next eight to 10 years; and

.?Increasing the pass mark for the language of learning and teaching and paying special attention to this language in each school, because pupils’ proficiency levels are too low to cope with the demands of the curriculum and the matric exams.

The new recommended pass marks, which are not ­significantly different to those currently used, are 50% in the language of teaching and learning, 40% or more in four other subjects and 35% in another subject. This is for pupils who want to qualify to study towards a diploma. ­Previously, only 30% was required in the language of ­teaching and learning.

For students who wish to qualify to study towards a ­bachelor’s degree, the marks are 50% in four subjects, one of which should be the language of teaching and learning, and 40% for two subjects. If the home language is not the language of teaching and learning, it must be passed with at least 40%.

The team has also highlighted the importance of quality marking and, in a move that’s likely to anger the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), it has recommended that potential markers be ­required to demonstrate their ­competence ­before being appointed.

Sadtu has repeatedly resisted Motshekga’s moves to introduce testing for markers.

Motshekga constituted the team in January last year after a public outcry around the matric pass mark. Education experts also raised questions about the credibility and integrity of the National Senior Certificate. The report, which was finalised three months ago, ­criticised the Annual National Assessments, saying the raw scores coming from schools correlate poorly with ­examination performance.

“The school-based assessment in the final mark should be retained on condition that Umalusi’s [monitoring body] standardising role and capacity to make adjustments is sustained and developed,” the team said in the report.

Elijah Mhlanga, the department’s spokesperson, said: “We are studying the report. It will be discussed thoroughly, and we are looking at the implications of implementing the recommendations.”

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