Harder matric hailed

2014-08-04 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s largest teachers’ union Sadtu has given a guarded welcome to a call for a tougher matric.

Yesterday Mugwena Maluleke, South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) general secretary, said the union was “happy to engage with the minister” on a review of the matric pass mark.

A harder matric, raised university entrance criteria, mathematics to be taught in all schools and the removal of life orientation as a matric subject, are among the recommendations of a ministerial task team on the National Senior Certificate.

The team, set up by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, began work last August following the outcry about the quality of the matric certificate and the pass mark of 30%. Other task team recommendations, aimed at teachers, call for the monitoring of marking and stricter criteria for marking teachers.

Maluleke said Sadtu required “more clarity” with regard to the re­commendations concerning teachers, pointing out that there were already rules in place that “regulate the conduct of teachers”.

Maluleke said raising the pass mark to 40% or 50% was not a problem — “but what are the proficiency values; will it reflect quality”.

“You could pass at 50% with a proficiency level of three but that won’t produce the scientists we want. We need to push the proficiency to level four and five. In some countries it’s at level six.”

Maluleke welcomed maths being made compulsory at all schools. “Each and every pupil should do maths.”

Education analyst Graeme Bloch agreed. “All schools should be required to teach maths. They should have no option.”

He added that maths should also be a requirement for university entrance. With regard to the matric pass mark, he said: “We shouldn’t expect a 30% pass mark but raise it to a higher figure. Our results are bad and the quality must improve.”

Francis Faller, visiting professor at the Wits School of Education, said pressure from higher education had contributed to the findings. “There have long been concerns over levels of academic achievement, numeracy and language.”

Faller said questions had been raised about the matric pass mark of 30% two years ago. He also welcomed the proposed dropping of life orientation as a matric subject as it was seen as an easy option. However, he queried the increased pass mark for university entrance — to 40% and 50% for certain subjects. “Whether that will address quality is another matter. Simply changing the pass mark will not see necessarily see quality rise accordingly.”

A Basic Education Department spokesperson said the report, which is available on their website www.education.gov.za, is currently being studied by the department.

• Stephen.Coan@witness.co.za

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