75% of matrics expected to pass

2014-01-05 14:00

The matric pass rate for 2013 will probably improve to above 75%, education experts, unions and the Department of Basic Education have predicted.

This will be a slight improvement from the 73.9% recorded last year.

About 707?136 pupils sat for matric exams this year and are waiting with bated breath for their results, which Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga will release tomorrow afternoon.

Education expert Graeme Bloch said “there may be some improvement, but it shouldn’t be a big one.

We can get up to 75%. But it’s what we have been calling for and hoping for”.

The department, he said, had stabilised a bit in recent years.

Basil Manuel, the president of teachers’ union Naptosa also felt that 75% was achievable. “We expect a slight improvement. Things have stabilised. We expect a marginal increase.”

While the improvement would be welcome, Manuel said the quality within the system needs to be jacked up.

“The reality is that only 50% of all those who started Grade 1 some 12 years ago wrote the matric exams this year. Of the remaining 50%, 70% will pass and that is really sad. It means 60% of our children fell by the wayside. That is the biggest story for me.”

Manuel also said the standards of the entire schooling system need to be improved on dramatically.

“The quality of the passes should be improved. The matric certificate should be about access to opportunities. For now, its just a piece of worthless paper because very few pupils access university opportunities, let alone jobs. They can’t access the economy and the question is why did they study in the first place?”

The focus on the number of people who pass is misplaced, he said, adding that while a 75% pass rate was realistic, the focus should now be on the quality of those passes.

Department spokesperson Panyaza Lesufi said 75% was achievable.

He also said a 75% pass rate was stipulated in an official performance agreement between President Jacob Zuma and Motshekga when she was appointed in 2009.

“When we took over, it was 62% and 75% was a tall order. But it now looks reasonable and achievable. In the next few years, we want to smell 80%,” he said.

Lesufi said it was not true that 60% of all those who started school 12 years ago had fallen by the wayside.

“Many of them have gone to further education and training colleges. Some have gone to private schools and some have emigrated. Many have dropped out, while others have passed on. But the figures are hyped.”

The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union also said it went without saying that the system will record an improvement.

The union’s general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, said teachers were now confident with the new curriculum.

“They know what is expected of them. We are looking at something above 75%.”

But he also questioned the quality of the National Senior Certificate.

“For us it’s not about quantity, but quality. How many of those who pass will have a university entrance?

Last year it was about 24%. This year we want to push it beyond 30%,” he said.

Umalusi, the quality assurer, approved the release of the matric results last week.

The Independent Examinations Board, whose exams are written by private school pupils, released its results this week which saw its pass rate increase from 98.2% last year to 98.6% this year.

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