Pass marks discussed

2017-07-19 06:03

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has clarified the issue on the minimum promotion requirements in the schooling system following reports that it plans to drop pass marks in schools even further.

In a statement issued on 6 July, the department stated that a task team established by the minister of Education in 2009 to investigate poor curriculum implementation in schools recommended, among other things, changes to the programme and promotion requirements in the foundation, intermediate and senior phase.

The National Curriculum Statement, Gr. R to Gr. 12, was approved as national policy and published in the Government Gazette 34600, Notices 722 and 723 of 12 September 2011. It contained the new promotion and progression requirements.

The department states that the new promotion requirements are not aligned with the National Senior Certificate (NSC) promotion requirements, which is the national benchmark.

“Hence there is a need to align the promotion requirements across the foundation, intermediate and senior phase with the further education and training band,” says Elijah Mhlanga, spokesperson for the DBE.

“The department has been monitoring the implementation of the new requirements in the provinces. It was apparent from the 2014 mid-year performance that the new promotion requirements were adversely affecting the performance of learners at school level.”

Mhlanga says to minimise the impact of the higher promotion requirements in the senior phase, the DBE issued National Assessment Circular 3 of 2015 to allow for the adjustment of marks and in 2016, given the adverse impact of the compulsory pass requirement of Mathematics at 40%, a special condonation dispensation for Mathematics was applied.

“Based on National Assessment Circular 3 of 2016, learners who passed all other subjects, but failed Mathematics with a minimum mark of 20%, were condoned and would thus pass Mathematics and pass the examination as a whole. It is therefore considered necessary, having observed the negative impact of the compulsory pass requirement of Mathematics at 40% and language (home language), at 50%, to consider amending policy and regulations in order to respond to the challenges and the unintended consequences brought about by the new programme and promotion requirements,” said Mhlanga.

The proposal that will be consulted relating to the senior phase include the following:

  • pass four subjects at 40%, one of which is a home language;
  • pass any other four subjects at 30%; and
  • Mathematics is removed as a compulsory promotion requirement.

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