SAOU analyses matric results
Johannesburg - An analysis conducted by the Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU) on the 2010 matric exam results has found that many factors may have contributed to the improved 67.8% pass rate.
One of them was that exam coaching was carried out, the SAOU said on Thursday.
"The Department of Basic Education in particular launched a number of initiatives aimed at assisting candidates to prepare themselves for the examinations.
"Feedback received from a number of sources suggests that the materials used in these initiatives in some cases resembled the examination question papers to such a degree that the interventions could actually be regarded as exam coaching," it said.
Another reason may have been that principals held back risky learners.
"Some reports suggest that the holding back of risky candidates by principals (referred to as ‘gaming the system’) might have contributed towards the higher pass rate.
"However, a comparison of the figures on the 2009 and 2010 groups shows that there are no substantial differences, which confirm this reasoning.
If "gaming" did indeed play a role in 2010, there is no proof that it had a stronger impact than in 2009 and could therefore have contributed to the higher pass rate."
The analysis found that the pass rate was "sobering" and that the "reality check was a bit of a shock", said spokesperson Chris Klopper.
More needed to be done to improve the results of part-time candidates, he said.
There was a drop in the number of "candidates who enrolled" to the "number who wrote" in 2010 compared to the previous year.
"This means that the suggestion that candidates might have been moved from full-time to part-time status could be applied to 2009 as well or even more so.
"The fact that the number of part-time candidates rose from 39 255 in 2009 to 82 835 in 2010 could also be ascribed to the number of part-time candidates growing from year to year," Klopper said.
The first National Senior Certificate examination was written in 2008 with 1 116 part-time candidates.
In 2009 there were 39 255 (those who started the courses on a part-time basis together with those who failed in 2008) and in 2010 there were 82 835 (those who started on a part-time basis together with those who failed in 2008 and 2009).
"However, it must be borne in mind, and based on the information supplied by the Department of Basic Education, that if the average pass rate of the part time students (20 to 22%) is considered, it does bring the total pass rate (the sum of full-time plus part-time) down considerably," he said.
In the study, the union questioned several reasons for the increased pass rate, including concerns relating to the standard of the question papers and the calculation of total pass rate.
The union said it shared the views of commentators who suggested that the 7% increase in the pass rate was unrealistically high, and that it did not necessarily reflect an improvement in the quality of teaching.