Rural pupils do poorly

2015-01-08 00:00

A REPORT on the 2014 National Senior Certificate exams has confirmed that pupils living near large economic hubs have a better chance of passing matric than their rural counterparts.

And critics say unless more emphasis is placed on uplifting rural education, the threat of “school migrants” to urban areas could lead to an overburdening of the successful districts while rural schools stand empty.

The report, released this week, showed large disparities between rural and urban schools. For instance, 40 of the 93 schools that achieved 100% pass rates were in the Durban and Pietermaritzburg districts, with the remaining nine districts accounting for the rest.

Les Stanley, an independent education consultant based in KZN with over 40 years of experience, said there is no quick solution to the problem.

“While the government has had to upgrade rural schools, there is still a chasm between them and their urban counterparts. Everyone follows the same syllabus, but the access to information, teachers and resources is different,” said Stanley.

He said better socio-economic areas attract better teachers, making quality teacher retention in rural schools hard.

“While top students will move to better schools, usually in urban areas, we must still provide for the hundreds of thousands of pupils who cannot leave their home areas,” said Stanley.

KZN’s education districts based in the large economic hubs of Durban (Pinetown and Umlazi) and Pietermaritzburg (uMgungundlovu) posted the highest pass results of 75,83%, 77,28% and 71,92% respectively. The three districts with the worst pass rates — Zululand, Ilembe and Umzinyathi — have large tracts of land still under tribal ownership and are dominated by informal economies and unemployment.

Professor Brahm Fleisch, from the Wits School of Education, and who is involved in education leadership and policy studies, said the results are disproportionate between rural and urban areas largely because of historic reasons.

“In rural areas there is less choice, while in urban areas the youth have greater exposure to English and various media resources such as newspapers …” said Fleisch.

He said while schools in the Eastern Cape had recorded massive declines in enrolment numbers, schools in “Durban and surrounds have substantial overcrowding”.

“The Education Department is aware of this, but there is no simple solution. This problem has been in place for more than 30 years,” said Fleisch.

Education Department head Nkosinathi Sishi had not responded to questions on the matter by the time of going to press.


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