Unions, experts hail ‘realistic’ 2014 pass rate

2015-01-06 09:35

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Education unions and experts in the field are happy with the “realistic” 75.8% matric pass rate.

Last night, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that the pass rate had dropped from 78.2% in 2013 to 75.8% for the class of 2014.

Basil Manuel, president of the National Professional Teachers’ Association of South Africa, said the results were to be expected.

“We welcome the results but we are disappointed. The drop was to be expected because of the many changes introduced in the system. We expected speed bumps as a results of the changes,” Manuel said.

He was referring to changes in the maths curriculum, the increased difficulty of the maths literacy papers and the introduction of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (Caps).

The matrics of 2014 were the first cohorts to write the new curriculum’s matric exams.

Manuel said he was concerned about the value of the matric certificate.

“There are fewer university entrances in 2014 compared with 2013. If the matric certificate can’t secure you a job or a university entrance, what is it worth?”

The results, he said, will probably drop again at the end of this year before stabilising in 2016.

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) also said it was happy about the results, despite the slight decline.

General secretary Mugwena Maluleke said Sadtu’s preoccupation was with quality.

“Those students who go on to register at university should finish their courses in record time; that’s the only way we will be able to measure the quality of pupils coming out of our schooling systems,” Maluleke said.

Education, he said, was not about grade 12.

“We should start at grade R and continue to build a sustainable system. If teachers are not taken care of in terms of working conditions, nothing will come right. We need libraries, laboratories, water, electricity and other infrastructure.”

Teacher development is also key, said Maluleke, adding that every teacher should have at least 120 hours of professional development every year.

“This will help improve competency and gain new methodologies. It’s not a favour that the employer does for teachers; it’s necessary.”

Education policy expert at the University of South Africa, Moeketsi Letseka, said the drop was to be expected.

“I would call the results realistic. Minister Angie Motshekga said 2013’s 78.2% was a surprise; the department had targeted 75%. So, realistically, it’s where we should have been anyway,” Letseka said.

He said that considering the matrics of 2014 were guinea pigs for the new curriculum, a dip wasn’t surprising.

“Remember they went through a lot. This is the same class that was failed by the lack of textbooks in 2012.”

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