DOE also can’t count

2015-01-21 00:00

THE provincial Education Department (DoE) cannot do basic arithmetic.

The Witness has uncovered a litany of mathematical errors and incomplete data in the recently released National Senior Certificate (NSC) Report 2014.

The DoE has conceded that the report had factual inaccuracies in several cases and they will correct them.

The NSC report — released on the day the matric results were made public this month — gives a statistical analysis of the province’s Grade 12 performance and is used by educational experts to compare performance year on year.

Recently The Witness reported that the department had released three reports — including the Annual National Assessment report — that were littered with spelling errors including in a foreword by Education MEC Peggy Nkon­yeni and her HoD Nkosinathi Sishi.

The DoE senior manager for examination administration, Raymond Penniston, who was responsible for compiling the NSC report, confirmed the errors in an e-mail this week.

He admitted to 10 districts being “omitted” from a table that gave a breakdown of pass types in categories such as Bachelor, Diploma and Higher-Certificate passes and he conceded that the averages calculated for several core subject pass rates were incorrect.

Penniston also blamed errors on “typing” and admitted that the number of schools that wrote the NSC exams was not 1 716 as stated in the report and told to the media, but in fact 1 741.

“There is supposed to be an amendment to the report. We must still wait for the change to go through the channels.”

KZN Education Portfolio Committee chairperson Linda Hlongwa said the errors “were unfortunate” but she was “grateful” that the DoE had admitted there were errors.

She said “it goes without saying the department needs to lead by example” and should make an effort to check documents before releasing them to the public.

“We will certainly be raising several issues that we have seen raised in the media at the ­portfolio committee,” Hlongwa said.

DA chief whip in the KZN legislature Mark Steele said the number of errors cast doubt on the reliability of the province’s matric results.

“We should be able to rely on the figures. It is not our oversight task to make sure they are correct. Inaccuracies cast doubt on the entire report,” said Steele.

He said where the “data is not ­reliable”, processes break down.

Steele said the concern would be how the inaccurate report would affect ­policies further down the line.

“We see this regularly [in the legislature]. Annual reports are simply not checked. You would expect the very least of the DoE is to get right the ­percentages and averages.”

The DA’s provincial education spokesperson, Mbali Ntuli, said questions would need to be asked as to whether the mistakes were just “incompetence” or were deliberate with “malicious intent”.

• jonathan.erasmus@witness.co.za

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