‘Matrics need drastic help’

2010-09-05 09:02

A school readiness report has called for drastic measures to prepare matriculants for exams which are scheduled to start in less than two months.

A monitoring team from the Department of Basic Education which compiled the State of Readiness Report found that more than 60 000 learners registered to write matric exams were doing some of their subjects for the first time this year, without the strong foundation gained from ­doing the subjects in previous grades. They were allowed to switch subjects when they started Grade 12.

The team also found that in Eastern Cape, 1 500 learners were irregularly promoted from Grade 11 to Grade 12 because of a ­misunderstanding of the ­progression and promotion ­policy.

The report noted that administratively and logistically, all systems were in place to conduct credible exams.

It recommended, however, that ­provinces devise programmes to make up for time lost during the ongoing public servants’ strike and the five-week school holiday during the Football World Cup.

The team concluded in the ­report, presented to the National Council of Provinces on ­August 31, that although provinces had made significant strides, the learners’ preparation was unsatisfactory.

“In this regard drastic measures must be taken to redress the gaps identified,” the report said.

The report recommended a comprehensive recovery programme that would take into ­account that syllabuses had not been concluded.

The provinces had to work out different programmes for different schools, depending on category, and deadlines had to be set.

This week the report was shared with the heads of education departments’ committee, chaired by the basic education department’s director-general, Bobby Soobrayan.

Serious concerns picked up during the three-month investigation included the fact that 17 000 matriculants in Western Cape and an average of 6 000 in eight other provinces changed subjects in matric.

A senior monitoring team ­official said the Western Cape figure was higher due to the ­province’s use of the more ­accurate electronic registration system as opposed to manual ­recording in other provinces.

It was found that most learners changed between core mathematics and mathematics literacy, resulting in the loss of two years of dedicated tuition.

“Our policy is that learners can change three subjects in Grade 10, two in Grade 11 and one in Grade 12.

“However, they need their parents’ and the principal’s approval as well as that of the head of the provincial department,” explained basic education spokesperson Granville Whittle.

Whittle said there was no evidence that it negatively affected pupils as the switch was “logical”.

Another concern raised in the report was the irregular promotion to Grade 12 of learners in some Eastern Cape schools.

“They would promote a learner who failed a home language, for instance,” said the official.

Malibongwe Mtima, Eastern Cape education department’s spokesperson, said the province was cleaning up the system and had reduced the number of promotions by more than 60%.

The monitoring team, which could not visit district offices and schools in North West and Northern Cape due to the strike, said it did not have confidence that all the country’s 640 000 matric pupils (562 473 full-time and 80 218 repeaters) had been treated fairly and equitably.

Under the heading “Overview of State Readiness”, the report found “varying school-based moderation practices within and across the provinces”.

As a result, the department said, it had started a process of ­developing guidelines for ­moderation which “should ­resolve the current plethora of practices”.

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