1 in 6 matrics failed maths

2012-01-29 13:10

Johannesburg - One in six pupils who wrote last year's matric maths paper got less than 10%, City Press reported on Sunday.

More than half the matrics who wrote physical science got less than 30% for the subject, according to figures the paper obtained from education quality assurance body Umalusi.

The average mark for the maths paper was 29%, 32% for physical science and 38% for life sciences.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced on January 4 that 70.2% of matrics at public schools passed last year's exams, up from 67.8% in 2010.

Figures showed only nine percent of those who wrote maths and 10 percent of those who wrote physical science had, according to the department's criteria, an adequate understanding of these subjects, the newspaper reported.


The figures were "frightening", education expert Professor Graeme Bloch told the City Press.

"We are perhaps improving slowly, but not fast enough for a competitive world."

The numbers also showed fewer pupils were taking critical subjects like maths, physical science and accounting.

The pass mark should be set at the globally accepted standard of 50%, CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools, Paul Colditz said.

"We are misleading ourselves and the learners. A 50% [pass] would, however, reduce the number of successful candidates dramatically, and embarrass the political and educational leaders."

Matrics however did well in languages, and across the 11 official languages, average marks of well above 50% were achieved.

Wits University education Professor Mary Metcalfe told the newspaper: "These maths results are deeply worrying for our progress in scarce skills areas. Many teachers need more support with both mathematics and the specific challenges of teaching concepts," she told the City Press.

The Umalusi data showed far fewer pupils enrolled for English and Afrikaans as a home language than in previous years.

  • cameronjohnprice - 2012-01-29 13:12

    That's no good.

      Newsreader - 2012-01-29 13:49

      SA is on a collision course for .......... hell who knows? I dont think any country has had an ANC before! Mugabe may even had done better with the education standards?

      Francois - 2012-01-29 14:24

      I think your statement is a euphamism - this is not a recipe for a disaster anymore, it is already one. Newsreader, we are on a coalition course, the ANC government will not act against SADTU as that will chase Cosatu out of the fray and that will imply a strong labour party, the one thing they fear as is proof of their condoning of brutul actions against the MDC in Zim. It also counts in their favour to have illeterate people as voting fodder as then the vote can be bought with "hate the white people" or "it is apartheid" rhetoric or a bag of mielie meal. Can the honourable minister (when she is at her post and not dancing in the street to support Zuma) please tell us how many kids started Grade 1 12 year ago and how many passed maths? That will even be more telling, but please don't tell it to the journalist of this article as 1 is 6 less than 10% does not equal 1 in six failed as the pass mark is 30 - a lot more failed as 10 does not equal 30 or maybe you also were taught maths in the current mielie meel for votes regime.

      Ray - 2012-01-29 14:58

      Perhaps they should change the pass mark to 10%.Also,if you spell your name Korrek you get 10% to start with.That would reduce the failure rate to about 1 in 7.

      James - 2012-01-29 17:07

      In the US black H/School dropout is 50%, Graduates; only 12% College ready.

      Dirk - 2012-01-30 00:19

      This is the true reflection of SA education

  • jack.oosthuysen - 2012-01-29 13:14

    Something tells me Julius Malema may consider himself intellectually superiour over his followers.

  • Mr Squid - 2012-01-29 13:20

    Unfortunately the ANC has no desire to improve these results at all - for 2 reasons. Firstly, as the report states, raising the pass standard to 50% would yield deeply embarrassing results for them, and secondly an improvement in the standard of education would rob them of support, as better educated people are unlikely to vote for the ANC with their piss-poor record.

  • Sharon - 2012-01-29 13:20

    What would be even more interesting, is if they give these students old exam papers, say 1985-1990 and see how they do. I think the results would be shocking, even to those who know how far the standards have dropped.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-01-29 13:29

      Based on the article, 80 percent of the population can't even understand the headline.

      Francois - 2012-01-29 14:48

      That includes the journalist.

      Francois - 2012-01-29 14:50

      And maybe goyougoodthing as well - the average IQ in any country is 100 as IQ is a normal distribution with 100 as the average of the population, but I guess that if you search far enough, you will get a blog that states that Germany did not loose WWII, they came second, with Italy in a distant third.

      Bertus - 2012-01-29 15:36

      @Francois, that can't be true because then my IQ would be higher in RSA than it would be in South Korea for instance. Think about it... Would love to know what the actual pass/fail stats are for maths and science and what it would be if the pass mark was 50% - as it should be.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-01-29 15:51

      Francios if you want to be clever, do some research first. IQ TESTS are the same everywhere, with a standard norm being 100. However on a standard IQ test the average in sub saharan Africa comes out at 72.

      Francois - 2012-01-29 18:00

      Bertus, you and goyougoodthing are contradicting one another - Bertus, if IQ tests are the same all over the world with a WORLD Standardised test, then your IQ will be the same anywhere. The fact is that if you want to believe that people are more stupid, just because they are black, then you have it wrong, or maybe you should speak to Barack Obama about that. The article is about pass rates in maths and a lot of factors influence it and only being black is certainly not one of them. Good education systems require good teachers and good parenting and a good socio economic environment. The goverment fails the vulnerable and poor (and yes they are predominantly black) with downright teachers who are bad at their job. It also fails the children in not wanting to create and good socio economin environment and good parenting not only requires parents to be there ( a lot of them cannot since they simply are dead), but also to be able to facilitate the children. The fact that you have internet and can do this research, must enable you to help your children if you have any. A parent who cannot read or write, cannot help a child with his maths. It is the result of a lot of factors over the years, but I don't think IQ is one as the kids to whom I teach maths in Alex have what it takes. I dont think that we must take it out on the youth and to blatantly believe that they cannot do the work is to give up the fight before we start. And if we loose this fight, we will all loose.

      Jo.Davies123 - 2012-01-29 18:02

      @goyougoodthing & Francois- very true. What this is actually saying is that 16% (1 out of 6) got less than 10%. It doesnt actually state how many failed maths!

      Francois - 2012-01-29 18:12 - we have a stalemate - except if you believe wikipedia more....

      Blip - 2012-01-29 20:48

      There isn't any IQ test statistically-standardised for the whole world. All IQ tests are regionally-standardised, and one therefore cannot compare them side by side. IQ scores are used for political mischief-making when this is done.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-01-29 20:55

      Francis, the statistics, as I have said, says that sub saharan Africa scores at 72. Also, the far east scores higher than the 'west' by about 7% on average. Here in SA the small Indian community regularly takes 50% of the top spots, so much so that they refuse to publish the top 10 in KZN anymore. It would seem, as you say, that there are other factors to take into account. An IQ test technically is not changed by education or language but there is no way that home cannot have a factor. My house tends to talk in concepts and ideas instead of things, so any child would be at ease with abstract thought... not so as you say in other households.

  • Perfume5 - 2012-01-29 13:22

    One in six pupils who wrote last year's matric maths paper got less than 10%, City Press reported on Sunday......I am stuck on the less 10%.

  • Stephen - 2012-01-29 13:23

    1 in 6 did not fail. 1 in 6 got LESS THAN 10%. According to the article, only 9% had an adequate understanding of math i.e. 91 in 100 FAILED MATH. Maybe the journalist(s) associated with this poorly written article should go for math lessons or stick to writing about something they know about ?

      Buck - 2012-01-30 07:59

      Guess the writer is one of those who passed with 30%.

  • Berthram Bowles - 2012-01-29 13:23

    What?? How can this be? I really thought that with Facebook and MySpace and MXiT and BlackBerry's BBM and Whatsapp students would definately achieve higher marks. (At least sarcasm cannot be learnt in school... ;) )

  • goyougoodthing - 2012-01-29 13:23

    How do you get less than 10%? Seriously, how does one actually fail matric? If I remember correctly, some simultaneous equations, some work with matrices, sin cos and tan, some stats etc. Not exactly rocket science.

  • thomas.robbertse - 2012-01-29 13:26

    ... 1 in 6 people got less than 10% .... Also reading that 1 in 6 failed maths .... It sounds like the threshold to pass maths is 10% ? Even at 30% which is believed to be a pass mark, it means you you can pass these days without knowing 70% of any subject, it therefore means your matric certificate is worth sh1t.... Leading our country to nowhere at all....

      thomas.robbertse - 2012-01-29 13:54

      ..... And with this, Africa could rival Asia - Zuma .... NOT !!

      Bertus - 2012-01-29 15:38

      Could not have said it better...

  • Brave - 2012-01-29 13:32

    1 million condoms at the ANC fest. Matrics failing the test. We are going F(*&UY^ing downhill at the speed of light. I feel like jumping off table mountain without a parachute. May God have mercy on this "nation". Would be great to see how results break out over racial groups.

  • Wendy - 2012-01-29 13:33

    and yet I bet most of them got university entrance .. amazing!

      Blip - 2012-01-29 20:49

      You'd lose your bet, of course.

  • Garth - 2012-01-29 13:33

    In 18 years of complete and utter criminal mismanagement, the useless anc have really excelled themselves this time. Lowering the pass rates is one thing; raising the numbers of failures is another. What future for this nation if we cannot educate our children. Merely because the majority of the ignorants in power, do not have a suitable enough education to ensure the correct governance of this country, that does not mean that they should deprive their children of a proper education. "We are perhaps improving slowly, but not fast enough for a competitive world." No porksword, we are going backwards at an unhealthy rate!

  • Avril - 2012-01-29 13:34

    Perhaps the City Press reporter should go and do a maths course. How can he/she title the article 1 in 6 failed maths, and then say 1 in 6 got less than 10%. Huh??? is the pass rate for maths 10%?

      Perfume5 - 2012-01-29 13:36

      Note my comment, saying that I am still stuck on the "10%"

      goyougoodthing - 2012-01-29 13:43

      Note that the average was 29% for maths and yet 70% passed. This, apparently, from the Minister of Education... if this were an English paper I would fail as I actually can't comprehend any of it.

      Shannon - 2012-01-29 14:17

      Reporters don't write their own headlines. Seems like the copy editor didn't read the article closely enough before writing the headline.

      John - 2012-01-29 14:51

      I studied the published stats yesterday. The correct facts are that of the students who failed maths, 1 in 6 achieved less than 10% as a mark. The average mark was just under 30%. Having said that in my opinion 30% is way too low a pass. In the older matric exams of the 1960s a pass was 45% and a university exemption was 50% or higher. For the percentage of passes to be 70% as claimed that means many students must have been in the upper 80% or higher to bring the average percentage up, you can prove anything you want by manipulationg the stats!

      Blip - 2012-01-29 20:55

      Not right. In the old system you got matric exemption if you scored above 950/2100 on aggregate. That's 45%. And to pass a Higher Grade subject, you needed 40%. (If you got between 33 and 39%, you'd fail it on HG but you'd be credited with Standard Grade pass automatically.) If you weren't going for Matric Exemption, you needed 720/1900 on aggregate to pass. That's 37%.

  • Evan - 2012-01-29 13:34

    Poor quality of teaching staff in general ,combined with lazy learners! Mathematics and science require hard work, repetition and understanding, none of which will be achieved without motivation on the part of the learner and ability and perseverance on the part of the teachers in question.

  • Rinnewien - 2012-01-29 13:39

    Doesn't matter you can still attend Varsity or better stll apply for a top post at the SABC!Even better get into politics. You might end up visiting another continent in three aeroplanes!

  • Michele - 2012-01-29 13:43

    Average IQ of Southern Africa is 67. 98% of our teachers probably have an IQ of below 100. Goes to show.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-01-29 13:51

      I read 72 somewhere else, but either way that is stupid.

      Bertus - 2012-01-29 15:45

      As it is sunday afternoon and the tennis final is on, I'm too lazy to research IQ stats and the like, but I heard or read somewhere once that an IQ below 60 means you are mentally retarded. If it is true and the national average is 60-70, then we are indeed in deep trouble.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-01-29 15:53

      Here you go Bertus - below 70 means you need special education:

      Blip - 2012-01-29 20:57

      And 87.6% of statistics are simply sucked out of an opinion-writer's thumb...

  • boownz - 2012-01-29 13:52

    yooo, the future is not what it used to be...

  • Steve - 2012-01-29 13:58

    Great matric question for next year! If 1 out of 6 of you writing today will not achieve 10% what is this ratio as a percentage? Answers on a postcard.

      cpsmit - 2012-01-29 16:38

      The headline to this story, gives me the impression that even the editor is not so hot hat maths?

  • Patrick - 2012-01-29 14:30


      Garth - 2012-01-29 15:48

      Fix it Patrick. You and others like you. Don't vote anc. Educate others not to vote for the useless, useless anc. My white face cannot do it.

  • Ian - 2012-01-29 14:40

    wow really, wonder why DUH

  • pws69 - 2012-01-29 14:58

    Yet a young lady with SIX DISTINCTIONS cannot get into university to study medicine because she is white. Then we read that the patient doctor ratio in EC is 3,888:1 (USA, CANDA, UK 450:1). Bearing in mind it was 2000:1 only ten years ago. Education is screwed up, the criteria for further education is screwed up, SADTU controls the department of education (worth noting that lost days due to strikes is highest in Education compared to any industry/vocation in South Africa). But the mamparas continue to vote ANC. That 65% voting ANC must just LOVE suffering.

  • ivan.coetzee2 - 2012-01-29 15:04

    I dont get how we can even try be competive in the global market when we have people who consider 30% a pass mark, and these people are running the country,WTF,

      James - 2012-01-29 17:17

      Julle kan nie kompeteer nie, net in China is 1.2 BILL slim hardwerkende mense.

  • acsteyn - 2012-01-29 16:51

    So wity the exception of a few, none of our governmental leaders can add 2 and 2 together and get stockvel.

  • Robert - 2012-01-29 18:37

    Maths is one of those subjects that is critical, Very poor show !

  • Nadine Booyse - 2012-01-29 19:00

    I went to a college in Massachusetts, pass rate 76%or better. I had to redo math for college enterence. Managed a 98%. All I learnt in high school was how to scrape by with 30%. I got a 40% in math for matric, pathetic, but a pass. Guess I should have been spanked during school and not given detention. Lol

  • Nadine Booyse - 2012-01-29 19:11

    Pws69- study overseas. It's easier than you think. I came to the USA, studied nursing (76% is a pass) I'm now in the medical field. Was given loans in the US to study, was told I was the wrong color for financial assistance in my home country-South Africa, (yes, I'm white, from a lower income family, had a single mother...... But not disadvantaged) registration is safe, they don't stampedes of registration. Get a real education that holds up world wide, study abroad!!!!!!

  • Blip - 2012-01-29 20:43

    It's FAR worse than one-in-six failing. One-in-six scored lower than TEN percent. That's not the pass mark. One-in-THREE failed maths. And even then it's too high a pass rate. Experts have declared that 90% of candidates do not have even as little as an elementary grasp of the most basic concepts in maths. Yet a third -- not a tenth -- of them somehow pass after marks are "adjusted"! The exam is hopeless compromised and devalued.

  • Grant - 2012-01-30 00:28

    Wow nice to see my comment deleted. Info bill got you too News24?

      Garth - 2012-01-30 08:53

      It is not the info bill Grant. It is the language that one uses that causes deletion. If the `moderators' do not understand the `high' English of one's comment, it gets erased. Not so NEWS24?

      Grant - 2012-01-30 11:37

      So I guess "We are an intellectually disadvantaged nation" would have been more PC than "We are a stupid nation". I will word more carefully next time.

  • gerrit.pruis - 2012-01-30 06:03

    Now I'm even prouder of my cousin getting an A in it!!!!!

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