BMF GAUTENG STUDENT CHAPTER OPPOSES THE 30% PASS MARK IN HIGH SCHOOL.
When the ministry of Education was divided into two separate Departments to form the Department of Higher Education and Training , it was for administrative purposes , a step which ensured that matters concerning each level of education can be addressed expeditiously . However, there has been a disjuncture that goes as far as the content of the curricula and performance requirements for these two levels of Education. Besides the fact that learners in high school are not substantively prepared for the type of curriculum they have to deal with at Tertiary level, a mere 30% qualifies them to go to the next grade . That creates a lot of problems.
First it makes it way too easy to pass any subject at high school, thus condoning a culture of laziness and institutionalizing low standards. This low pass mark leaves so much leisure time at the learners’ disposal as they can easily prepare for a test the night before and still pass. Secondly and most unfortunately, it does not prepare learners for the amount of pressure they will have to deal with at Tertiary level. For instance the lowest pass mark at University is 50% and here you have taught a learner to strive only for a mere 30% for her whole time at Basic Education level.
It comes as no surprise that even when the Matric pass rate increases (by 3.7% between 2011 and 2012) , it actually does not increase with the number of learners who get University entrance . Further that of those who make it to Higher Education , most do not pass their first year of study . This means we cannot retain as many students to a level of graduation if the two tiers of Education are not reconciled substantively and otherwise. Firstly by enriching the content of high school curriculum so as to prepare learners well and fix the pass mark to 50% the lowest . This should not be seen as attempts to make it difficult for learners to pass but as a way of building a sustainable and coherent Education system that does not throw matriculants to the deeper end when they want to study further.
It is disheartening to come across Higher Education students who do not have sufficient Literacy and Numeracy competence , what they should have learnt and acquired throughout their Basic Education years. Parents, civil society and all stakeholders should start debating the content of Education in the same fashion we have all been saying education is important. It is not enough to say young people must study if we are not concerned with the quality of what they are studying. We should not merely celebrate a high Matric pass rate which does not ultimately translate into an increased access to Higher Education as well as a higher retention and graduation rate .
The theoretical and practical mis-communication between Basic and Higher education naturally leads to an increase in the number of young people with no higher education, a number of University and College leavers, a high rate of unemployed youth ( which currently stands at 52.8%) which will ultimately slow down the pace of poverty alleviation and crime prevention. The Basic Education model must not only reconcile with the content at Higher Education , it must also respond to the realities in the markets. An Education that will not ultimately lead to economic growth and a creation of opportunities is not worth the pain.
Finally, we call upon the Department of Basic Education to extend the closing date for public input on the determination of the pass mark and improve its communication machinery to reach out to the wider population. To the learners, dear friends , you should be worried when that Pass symbol is handed to you on a silver platter, real life out here demands way higher than that. To quote Theodore Isaac Rubin , ‘Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.’.
Issued by the Gauteng Black Management Forum Student Chapter.
Inquiries : Provincial Chairperson Godfrey Maja : 079 721 9635
Provincial Secretary Mmopa Lebenya : 072 172 9977
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