Recently the Minister of Basic Education announced her department was seeking public commentary about the planned changing of the matric maths pass mark from 30% to 50%. I personally don't understand why there is need for public consultation on the matter. I reckon it should have been a matter of the Ministry coming out saying, "we are going to change..." rather than "should we change..." and then seeking public comments.
In case you have never thought of it this way, a 30% 'pass' mark actually means the person doesn't know 70% of the content of the subject matter. My opinion is that the minimum pass mark should be 50% across the board- i.e. all subjects and not just Maths. Last year's overall matric pass rate was 73.9%...based on the 30% pass mark criteria for the different subjects.
The pass rate masks the true dire state of the basic education sector and paints a picture of things being rosy. Analysis of the bachelor passes (learners who passes with marks which enable them to register for a bachelor's degree) reveals the thorns on the rosy picture. Only 26.6% of learners achieved a bachelor pass in the class of 2012. [This figure stood at 20.1% in 2008, 19.9% in 2009, 23.5% in 2010 and 24.3% in 2011].*
Mediocrity systematically starts at this level and results in a smaller pool from which to draw the engineers, scientists, doctors etc which the country needs. The low standard which learners in the South African basic education level are subject to does not bode well for the socio-economic-political stability of our country.
A lot of money is allocated to education each and every year, but we don't seem to see any significant progress in addressing the multitude of problems besetting the sector. We are sitting with a systemic problem which needs for the government to make a systematic overhaul of the education system.
(See my next article for some proposed interventions)
*NB: Data was sourced from the Department of Basic Education's 2012 National Senior Certificate results
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