KZN’s matric year of shame

2015-01-07 00:00

PROVINCIAL education bosses have taken full responsibility for the decline in one the worst matric results recorded in recent years, and have promised to turn the situation around.

And while the results have been further tainted by a cheating scandal, the Department of Education was quick to claim that the decline was the result of the first batch of matrics writing the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (Caps) curriculum.

Department head Nkosinathi Sishi unveiled the department’s dirty laundry at the provincial release of the 2014 National Senior Certificate results at Durban’s International Convention Centre yesterday.

“We are not in denial about the decline. 2014 was the first year for pupils to write the Caps and teachers had no idea what to expect from the exams. These results have made us realise that being good at administering exams is not good enough; we need to prepare teachers well too,” he said.

Sishi said as the education leadership “we take full responsibility for the decline” and that they would “look at the reasons behind the drop”.

Nearly 140 000 pupils wrote their finals but just 97 144 passed.

While there were 6 000 fewer matrics enrolled in 2014, overall 14 000 fewer pupils passed the national certificate.

Umgungundlovu recorded a pass rate drop from 79,6% to 75,5%. This was significantly better than Ilembe district, which saw its pass rate drop nearly 15 percentage points from 71,8% to 59,2%. The worst performing district was Umzinyathi, where pass rate dropped from 71,8% to 55,2%.

Alarmingly, all districts scored less than a 50% average for mathematics, while only five districts recorded averages above 50% in physical science.

“It is concerning that there was a decline in maths and science. It is clear programmes in maths haven’t worked.

“Business studies has also presented problems. We need to fix maths, science and the rest of the schooling system,” said Sishi.

Premier Senzo Mchunu said it was “clear that KZN had not made progress”.

“We have not done well. We have to do better because although there is an improvement in some subjects, there is a backward slide like in maths and physical science,” he said.

Education MEC Peggy Nkonyeni was more optimistic about the decline.

“We are going to work our fingers to the bone to ensure that instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we are going to pick ourselves up and move on,” she said.

While the department would not be drawn into commenting on allegations that cheating may have occurred at 19 of the 1 716 exam centres across the province, officials said they found it “very disturbing” that there may be been “group copying”. The allegations are currently being investigated by education oversight body Umalusi and the department.

If teachers are found guilty of aiding pupils to cheat, they could face prosecution. Pupils found guilty may face a five-year ban from rewriting their matric exams.

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