Four out of ten fail matric

2010-01-07 13:07

The matric pass rate for 2009 barely scraped past the 60% mark,

continuing a steady decline Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga described

as cause for “sleepless nights”.

Motshekga on Thursday blamed poor teaching and management in

schools for the disappointing national pass rate of 60.7%, down from 62.5% in

2008 and 65.2% in 2007.

“Management in our schools is often weak and lacks leadership and

commitment. Our systems are also often inefficient,” said the minister who is

phasing out much of the controversial outcomes-based education curriculum.

“In 2010 we shall strengthen our interventions to ensure that the

class of 2010 shows a significant improvement.”

KwaZulu-Natal was the only province where the pass rate improved –

up 3.5 percent to 61.1%.

In Gauteng the pass rate fell from 76.4% in 2008 to 71.8%, a sharp

decline Education MEC Barbara Creecy described as “sobering“. She urged teachers

and pupils to do better this year.

The Western Cape also failed to halt a downward slide that has

taken it from 85% in 2004 to 75.7% in 2009. The Democratic Alliance run province

also saw its number of matric exemptions fall from 33% to 31.9%.

Education MEC Donald Grant told reporters: “Not surprisingly, it

has not been possible to reverse this decline in a very short period.”

He pledged to make a special effort to improve secondary schooling

on the Cape Flats.

“We simply cannot continue to have the intolerable situation where

the majority of these schools are not in a position to provide the quality of

education that all learners are entitled to.”

In the Eastern Cape the matric pass rate stabilised at 50%, leaving

Mpumalanga at the bottom of the class with 45.9%.

The province managed to release its results at the same time as the

rest of the country, despite reports that papers were leaked in an echo of

similar irregularities in 2008 that saw officials sacked.

Motshekga said Umalusi, the quality assurance body for general and

further education and training, “found no evidence of a systematic problem in

Mpumalanga” and believed the results were credible. Gauteng was not immune to

reports of fraud, with Creecy saying 59 serious irregularities were being


In Limpopo the pass rate dropped by more than 5%, in Free State by

2.4%, in North West by 0.5% and in the Northern Cape by 11%.

Motshekga told reporters in Pretoria: “Saying we are unhappy is too

mild. We’ve had sleepless nights and agonised. The National Senior Certificate

is an important indicator of the quality of our education system, and as a

country, we cannot afford to allow our young people to achieve results that are

in the main average or below average.”

She said poor teaching was widespread, and singled out science as a

subject that needed urgent attention.

In the Western Cape, only 52.9% of matrics passed the science paper

compared to 71.2% in 2008.

Motshekga said officials in the provincial education departments

must support schools in ensuring textbooks are supplied in time and standards


“They must ensure that real teaching and learning are taking place

in all our schools from the beginning of the school year.”

She praised KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape for bucking the

national downward trend despite having vast, desperately poor rural areas.

Opposition parties said the results confirmed a crisis in public


The DA said: “There can be no more important area of public policy

for a developing country than the standards of education provided in its

schools, so these dismal results show quite categorically that where it matters

most, the ANC is failing South Africans.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party said the results “must be a wake-up call

to government that urgent steps must be taken to address the critical

shortcoming within our education system.”

The Independent Democrats described the results as


President of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union Thobile Ntola

welcomed the increase of nearly 20?000 in the number of students who wrote

matric, but added that the pass rate “gives grounds for serious concern”.

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