Matric pass rate rise hailed amid maths concern

2012-01-04 18:50

Excitement over a pass rate of 70.2% for the Class of 2011 – an improvement of 2.4 percentage points – was tempered by a disappointing performance in mathematics.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told guests at the National Library in Pretoria the improvement in the pass rate was an indication that her department and other stakeholders were making “great strides”.

The Class of 2011 has achieved what the Class of 2010 couldn’t. Motshekga’s department had targeted a 70% pass rate for the Class of 2010 but it achieved 67.8% instead.

However, Department of Education director-general Bobby Soobrayan said the department was disappointed with the drop in the latest mathematics pass rate.

The numbers for learners who passed maths, science and mathematical literacy remained stable but the department said it was aiming for an improvement.

Only 46.3% of learners passed maths in 2011.

Soobrayan said “massive drop-outs” (the number of matrics decreased from 643 000 to 577 000 in 2011) was a “disturbing trend”.

“We are dealing with problems of the quality of learners prior to candidates entering Grade 12,” he said.

He attributed the drop in numbers of matrics to the changes to the curriculum introduced in 2008, which he said affected Grades 10 to 12.

But Soobrayan said the education system was improving as more matrics qualified to enter universities and study degree programmes.

The department’s intervention strategies would be aimed at improving literacy and numeracy and introducing more winter schools and revision camps and self-study guides for pupils.

The department would also pay more attention to early childhood development and intervene where needed from Grade R.

Chris Klopper of the South African Teachers Union described the improvement in the pass rate as “encouraging”.

“What makes this year’s results particularly encouraging is that they are the results of a group that did not perform well in national and international assessments in the lower grades. This was the result of poorly informed and not well considered changes to the curriculum at the time, aimed at giving effect to the outcomes based approach to education in our schools,” said Klopper.

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