MEC: Plans helped KZN matrics
Durban - Turnaround strategies implemented by the KwaZulu-Natal education department early in 2009 helped the province increase its matric pass rate by 3.5%, said MEC Senzo Mchunu on Thursday.
"Among these initiatives were regular visits to underperforming schools by district, provincial and national officials," said Mchunu at Durban's Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.
KwaZulu-Natal improved its pass rate by 3.5% from 57.6% in 2008 to 61.1% in 2009.
"The area of focus was on critical resources required to facilitate and support teaching and learning in schools.
"We also focused on teaching and learning, monitoring and support."
Of the 132 176 KwaZulu-Natal pupils who wrote the examinations, 80 733 passed and 26 287 qualified to study at university.
Only province to up pass rate
KwaZulu-Natal was the only province to improve its pass rate, while the Eastern Cape stabilised at 50%. The rest of the provinces declined.
Only the Umlazi district's pass rate dropped but it still led the province with a 72.1% pass rate. In 2008, it obtained 74.8%.
Addressing the media before the official release of the provincial results, education head Cassius Lubisi blamed teachers for poor maths, science and accounting matric results.
"There is clear evidence that teachers are avoiding certain topics in these subjects because they do not know them," he said.
This was because some teachers were not adequately trained to teach the subjects, he said.
When teaching accounting, for example, teachers would deliberately avoid bookkeeping and management accounting.
In maths, it was known that some teachers avoided trigonometry, he said.
Maths paper difficult
While the department was pleased with the quality of the passes in all the subjects, Lubisi said they would have to address the issue of teachers who avoided certain topics.
He said many pupils struggled with accounting, in which they achieved a 67% pass rate.
There was a 45% pass rate for maths, he said.
"The paper was difficult. This was a higher grade paper… those who were doing standard grade would have failed this paper," he said, adding that the standard grade option for the subject was done away with.
There was a 39% pass in physical science, he said.
More no-fee schools
The department was pleased that the number of schools with a zero percent pass rate had declined from seven to four. These schools were in the Obenjeni, Empangeni, Vryheid and Umzinyathi districts, he said.
It was also announced that the number of no-fee schools in KwaZulu-Natal would increase by 131 this year.
Some 3 513 schools - or 59.60% - in the province would be declared no-fee schools.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize said some people believed the economic recession may have contributed to poor results.
"Many people believe that the recession was also to blame for the decrease in results in other provinces," said Mkhize.
Mkhize congratulated Mchunu on the hard work in his department and encouraged teachers and unions to continue with their hard work.
"The unions must also take an interest in the result and push for higher results in the maths and science subjects," he said.