Matric pass rate set to drop

2015-01-04 20:31

Johannesburg - The matric pass rate is set to drop for the first time in five years, according to the man responsible for exam quality control. Professor John Volmink, the head of the council of standards body Umalusi, told City Press in an interview he expects the pass rate to drop between 3% and 5%.

City Press reports that Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga will host a briefing on Monday, at which she’ll announce the overall pass rate for the matric class of 2014.

The national pass rate has climbed steadily from 60.6% in 2009, soaring from 73.9% in 2012 to an all-time post-1994 high of 78.2% last year.

But instead of breaking the 80% barrier in 2014, Volmink believes we’ll see a dip.

“Making use of the raw scores that are 75% of the total mark, excluding the continuous assessment that happens at school, which counts for 25%, I can venture a guess based on my experience that the national results will be down by 3% to 5% compared with last year,” said Volmink.

As the quality assurer, it’s Umalusi’s job to moderate and approve exam papers. It also monitors the exams, verifies the marking process and makes sure the final results are statistically moderated.

Volmink first served as the chair of the Umalusi council from 2006 to 2010, and was then appointed by Motshekga as the chief executive of the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit.

He returned to Umalusi in June 2014. Basic education department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said City Press’s report was “speculative”

and refused to answer any questions about the 2014 results until Motshekga delivers her speech tomorrow evening.

Nicholas Spaull, an education researcher and lecturer at Stellenbosch University, said Volmink’s were “the most informed predictions we are likely to get before the actual release [of the results on Monday]”.

Volmink attributed his predicted dip to:

- A failure rate of 48% (without adjustments) in maths literacy, compared with 20% in 2013;

-  A drop of between 5% and 6% in the pass rate for mathematics and physical science; and

- What he said was a worrying drop in home language pass rates, including English.

English as a home language was taken by 105 000 pupils, but Volmink said more failed this year than in 2013. Although 432 797 pupils took English as a first additional language, their scores were not adjusted and the failure rate is slightly higher than last year.

In 2009, it became mandatory for every matric pupil to take mathematics or maths literacy. The latter has always been seen as an easier option – but, according to Volmink, it was tougher than mathematics in 2014.

He said understanding maths in context, which is the aim of maths literacy, is much more important than understanding algebra. “Maths literacy is potentially a very powerful subject.”

Umalusi and the department were expecting a dip in maths results because of changes in the curriculum during 2014.

There was a huge section in the 2014 exams that was not previously in the curriculum.

“We had Euclidean geometry and probabilities, which are conceptually hard,” Volmink said.

“There will be more people failing mathematics this year, but we had a lot more passing with A’s, so we had to bring it down to the five-year standard.

“Mathematics was adjusted downwards for the top pupils. Maths literacy was adjusted upwards.”

“The home languages also saw a decrease in the pass rate – and if you fail the home language, you fail,” Volmink said.

“For English home language, we had an increase in the failure rate.

“We made a small upward adjustment because the failure rate was significantly higher than previous years, but it is still down from last year.”

Volmink said the 2014 results could have been worse, but praised interventions by the basic education department, which he said helped arrest further decline.

These included teacher workshops run by provincial and national departments; and holiday and weekend camps, which were designed to give pupils extra teaching time.

  • Daniel van der Westhuizen - 2015-01-04 20:51

    Maths literary lit harder than mathematics. That guy doesn't know what he's talking about. Why don't universities let you study most degrees with Maths lit then?

      Secrecy Bill - 2015-01-04 21:47

      So now we understand how the matric pass rate "soared" to 78.2% in 2013 despite Zuma closing teacher training colleges ! ...... (He-He-He ! )

      lacrimosewolf - 2015-01-04 22:42

      @Heywood Ublowme - (j) - it's not my fault (k) - I never asked for this

      NoeNoe - 2015-01-04 22:45

      Seriously - Judging by some of the spelling and grammar usage on this forum a lot of the commenters would also not pass matric exams without some serious "assistance". The people who give the TD's will more than likely be the guilty parties. :-)

      Daniel Koen - 2015-01-05 13:19

      I agree with you, maths lit was introduced for those who couldn't make the grade in Maths. Maths lit is only glorified arithmetic.

  • catcha.wakeup - 2015-01-04 20:51

    The lul before the storm. Pass rates have gone up so lower than the drastic drop in standards. Sadly, I would never employ anyone with just a matric certificate if the qualification was to be material in the appointment. Only cloudy what's his mother sings will get a job without one.

  • Sharon-E - 2015-01-04 20:54

    Is the projected pass rate inclusive of the cheaters? If so they will need to be revised.... It is a disgrace that not even the low pass rates can be achieved, at least, not without cheating :+(

  • Goeie Donner - 2015-01-04 20:56

    Floppies lol.

  • lloyd.venske - 2015-01-04 21:00

    Decrease the pas rate and more pass duh!

  • SimonC1969 - 2015-01-04 21:03

    I thought these days that to pass you only had to write and spell your name correctly? How can the pass rate be dropping?? I bet the ANC could break StoneHenge if they got anywhere near it. And keep them away from MtEverest ffs!

      Kaikai - 2015-01-05 03:27

      I guess that is still too complicated for the youth. They will drop the pass mark to 10% now.

  • Belinda Edelstein - 2015-01-04 21:07

    ....and these people are going to lead SA! Lol vs Very sad

  • Roland Baron - 2015-01-04 21:26


      Nikki Downes - 2015-01-05 02:50

      No wonder the English pass rate has dropped. My sons exam papers were lost and he was marked absent for all the English exams. Let the nightmare begin now to find the attendance register to prove he wrote. Still won't help as they need his papers to mark.

  • Dave Scott - 2015-01-04 21:32

    ""maths literacy, is much more important than understanding algebra"" NOT IN THE REAL WORLD, good luck anyway.

  • Sage Wiseman - 2015-01-04 21:34

    Is 30% really a pass. Who will employ someone who passed this shameful standard. The government of course, as long as you are a genuine black skin. Bad luck if you have a touch of white or are Indian.

  • peterroy.logan - 2015-01-04 21:35

    Fire this incompetent minister please.....oh no,cannot,she heads the women's league and her support is more important than the wasted education of the masses!

  • Narian Chengiah Naidoo - 2015-01-04 21:38

    The matric pass rate is set to drop like the South African rand.

  • George Oosthuizen - 2015-01-04 21:39

    4 out of 3 matrics struggle with maths... Hehehe....

  • Richard - 2015-01-04 21:40

    Well I suppose they will have to drop the pass percentage to 20% to increase the pass rate and if that fails just pass everybody.

      Dave Scott - 2015-01-04 22:02

      Richard don't give them ideas because they will do it

      Abizou Walkeen - 2015-01-05 08:02

      Just fail for 3 years and you get passed.

      Sthembiso Makelefane - 2015-01-05 09:21

      bunch of shameful cynics you are.

  • Lodewyk Lusse - 2015-01-04 21:40

    Hand education over to the DA. After all, it can't get any worse.

  • Benoit Le Roy - 2015-01-04 21:40

    Irrespective the standard is so low its unusable anywhere.

  • hornynick - 2015-01-04 21:50

    The only country where you don't have to know 70% of your work and you are then labelled a genius.

  • Dane Herbst - 2015-01-04 21:51

    Can't say I'm not surprised

  • Thando Hlophe Ndosh - 2015-01-04 22:17

    Maths lit was so difficult

  • Kgotatso Miss-k Mothle Koekemoer - 2015-01-04 22:26

    our education system is pathetic,

  • Kgotatso Miss-k Mothle Koekemoer - 2015-01-04 22:26

    our education system is pathetic,

  • William Ronga - 2015-01-04 23:35

    The pass rate sould never have been so high , this is what happens when you set up a normal exam

  • kpacesa - 2015-01-04 23:46

    An A/B/C ect should be a SET compliance's totally amazing that parents today do. NOT fight for this

  • kpacesa - 2015-01-04 23:48

    As a business owner, I will not accept a Matric unless supporting verified documents plus skill testing is done

  • kpacesa - 2015-01-04 23:48

    As a business owner, I will not accept a Matric unless supporting verified documents plus skill testing is done

  • kpacesa - 2015-01-04 23:48

    As a business owner, I will not accept a Matric unless supporting verified documents plus skill testing is done

      Narian Chengiah Naidoo - 2015-01-05 07:49

      Matric results with 30% pass mark is good enough for grazing cattle for Jacob Zuma at Nkandla.

  • Wynand Prins - 2015-01-04 23:57

    this exam wasn't difficult in the least...

  • Wynand Prins - 2015-01-05 00:00

    look I wrote matric this year. and I honestly didn't find it as challenging as most of you people believed it to be. my hardest test was biology paper 2 and I am still confident that ill pass with an average of at least 60

      Anton Van Schalkwyk - 2015-01-05 14:13

      Firstly, congrats. Secondly, how hard did you study for your exams?

  • erika.howden.5 - 2015-01-05 00:13

    This is sweet, knowledge you have to work for!! you can't blame it "on race, therefor life's unfair with us" or, "its been stolen from us" or "we want it for free " Are we looking at the monster baby of unwise people that believe they had the best "knowledge" to make wise choices for the oppressed? It's time to wake-up, stop blaming all but yourself take responsibility for your own actions. Only then the light if knowledge maybe will make change in us

  • Koos Koekkies - 2015-01-05 00:24

    Just reduce the pass-mark some more.

  • Ryan Paulssen - 2015-01-05 02:07

    The South African education system is a joke.

  • Nqubeko Q. Praiseworth Ngubo - 2015-01-05 03:19

    You can't blame it on the standard that's set to be 33% because no one is forced to get exactly those marks, learners have a choice so if they decide to work for 30% you can't blame it on our system.. But I can't complain people have made it a habit to blame others for something that's everyone's choice

      Nikki Downes - 2015-01-05 14:02

      Agreed Shannon. And worse than this becoming the norm, the averages drop in line with this too.

  • Ivan Matshaba - 2015-01-05 05:54

    We can and we will blame the damn system and the people managing it. Now we wait for the ridiculous excuse that Ms. Angie has....failure with this government has been a norm for quite some time now.

      John Smith078 - 2015-01-05 08:48

      They will blame it on apartheid and in another 20 years they will still blame it on apartheid.

  • Zook Gilman Nenz - 2015-01-05 07:16

    Is tht why you are saying "look" when you are talking to people

  • Owen George West - 2015-01-05 07:25

    I looked at the maths literacy paper I could not believe how easy it was and I left school decades ago. All you need is to read the question. Even the formula is given for you. I believe that a grade 8 child should be able to pass such a paper.

  • Arthur Crisp - 2015-01-05 07:34

    Looking at all the "thumbs down" throughout the comments section make one realize how many people think it is their "birthright" to receive, they do not have to achieve anything, everything will be given to them.

  • Abizou Walkeen - 2015-01-05 07:58

    The kids are getting so dumb they can't even pass their home language. Eish

  • SunshinyDay - 2015-01-05 08:05

    The pass rate is only 30% and they can't even do that. How on earth can the ANC be proud of this?

  • Craig Ferreira - 2015-01-05 08:05

    It is of to much whasapp & BBM. Thats where it starts no control over it

  • Frikkie Taljaart - 2015-01-05 08:06

    Once again I ask you people....what did you expect? The youth doesn't worry about proper education, they look at the leaders of the country and see that almost all of them is illiterate, especially the president of south africa, so where is the incentive to strive for a WORLD CLASS EDUCATION?

  • Helga Lehmgrubler - 2015-01-05 08:44

    CAPS that is all I am saying

  • Ria Cook - 2015-01-05 08:53

    Ag well, let's just reduce the pass rate to 20%.

  • Deborah Key - 2015-01-05 08:56

    This is the first time that Matrics are writing a CAPS final. This New curriculum is more challenging. It's to be expected that there will be an adjustment period. People want the standards of education to improve. This is a step in the right direction.

  • Shannen Harris - 2015-01-05 09:26

    As I am a matric student who went to a good government school I can say on behalf of the youth that we are the first set to do the CAPS syllabus so preparing for exams was different to previous years as we did not have many past papers to go through that included the new sections in each subject, as well as we had our normal sections with new ones on top of that . So the results may drop because of the way we had to adapt to the changes later in our high school year when we should have been stable. And on another note the conditions of rural schools and how they get taught with no proper material explains their results

  • Martiens Bezuidenhout - 2015-01-05 09:41

    Shannen Harris... Thank you for your first hand experience and credible view... you give me hope for our future.

  • Utopian Indigent - 2015-01-05 09:53

    Why don't people just acknowledge the truth we all know? 2013's pass rate was cooked for the election. Even people like Volmink hide government lies due to the massive benefits they receive. This year the pass rate should've normalised but due to EFF pressure and blind defense of the disastrous CAPS system, they will be cooked again. Matric means nothing already as proven by the disdainful view of it by universities and employers.

  • Pietro Mariani - 2015-01-05 10:08

    Why is math literacy separate from mathematics ??? its the one and same. The one needs the other and vica versa. REALLY STUPID PEOPLE DECIDED THIS

  • Cash Motene - 2015-01-05 10:50

    It's about time we produce quality than quantity, for the past few years if we wanted quality am telling u, we were never gonna have those high pass rates

  • POPEYE - 2015-01-05 14:12

    Welcome to the real world

  • Zoltan Pepper - 2015-01-05 14:18

    30 % to pass. Marks adjusted upwards to reach the 30%. Cheating in the exams. And then we still get less students passing.