Matric maths results shock

2013-03-18 00:00

ONE in three pupils who wrote the 2012 matric maths paper scored less than 20%, official data shows.

This figure and other startling results emerge from the raw marks of the 2012 matric examinations, which Media24 Investigations obtained after applying for access to information.

The raw data — which saw far fewer adjustments in final marks by the results oversight body, Umalusi, last year — challenge Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s description of the record 73% pass rate as a sign of “notable improvements in the education of children and society”.

Motshekga was given a ringing endorsement last week when the cabinet made it clear that her job would not be on the line and cited “steadily improving” education in her support.

But the raw marks, which provide a detailed breakdown of how pupils performed in each exam without their year marks or practical results being incorporated, show that many children are not just failing their exams, but failing them horribly.

The detailed results show what percentage of pupils achieved marks at various ends of the spectrum: from those who scored between zero and nine percent for an exam through to the high achievers who got between 90 and 100%.

The figures show:

• One in two matrics who wrote mathematics last year scored less than 30% (in 2011, it was three out of every five) and one in three got below 20%. The mean maths score went up from 29% to 31,7%;

• In physical science, nearly half of all candidates scored less than 30% — and 23% got less than 20%, even though overall there was a slight increase in the mean score from 32,48% to 34,76%;

• Accounting also showed a slight improvement, with the mean score improving from 34,8% to 36,9%, but 43% scored below 30% and one in five scored below 20%;

• In maths literacy — which saw 15 653 more pupils than in 2011 sit the exam — the class of 2012 performed slightly worse, with the mean score dropping from 43,9% to 42,6%.

Almost half of the 290 862 candidates scored under 40% in this subject and a fifth scored under 30%.

• In life sciences, which saw a surge of almost 12 000 more candidates than 2011, performance was also marginally down, from a 37,6% mean score to 36,68%. In 2011, 35% of candidates scored under 30%, and last year this figure climbed to 39%;

• In history the mean score improved markedly from 39,6% to 44%. Still, two out of every five who wrote the paper scored between 30 and 39%;

Cerenus Pfeiffer, a Stellenbosch University lecturer in a post-matric programme for pupils who underperformed in maths and science and want to rewrite the subjects, said that among the main reasons for children underperforming in numeracy were the quality of teaching and a lack of enthusiasm from the pupils themselves.

“Teachers complain that children don’t do their homework any more, and maths is unfortunately one of those subjects where you have to do your homework to get better.”

Dr Jonathan Clark, director for the University of Cape Town’s schools development unit, said the poor maths results were a reflection of failures lower down in the system.

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