Matric pass rate announcement a 'misleading fanfare' – Equal Education

2019-01-03 15:07
Equal Education members. (GroundUp, file)

Equal Education members. (GroundUp, file)

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Non-governmental organisation Equal Education says the annual matric pass rate announcement is a "misleading fanfare" that does not provide the full picture of the overall performance of the education system.

The 2018 matric results for government schools will be released on Thursday night, while the Independent Examination Board (IEB) results were released on Thursday morning.

READ MORE: Sign-up here to get your 2018 matric results online

The IEB schools achieved a pass rate of 98.92%. IEB CEO Anne Oberholzer said on Thursday that 90.65% of learners who wrote the exam had qualified for a university entrance.

In a statement on Thursday, Equal Education said that, while there had been some progress in the basic education sphere, the fact remained that 78% of Grade 4 learners in South Africa could not read for meaning in any language, according to an international reading study.

Equal Education said the matric results were a "superficial" barometer of the schooling system's performance. One of the key problems was high drop-out rates. Learning backlogs were a major contributing factor toward this, the NGO said, adding that about 12% of young people did not complete matric.

Another problem in the system was the "throughput rate", which Equal Education uses to measure the percentage of learners who were in Grade 2 together and who passed matric at the same time, or learners who were in Grade 10 together and passed matric together.

"In contrast to DBE's claim that the matric pass rate has consistently been above 70% over the past few years, and that it is increasing, a look at the throughput rate suggests that the pass rate has actually been declining, and ranges between 41% and 37%."

Taking into account other factors, such as learners who repeat grades, the department itself estimated that the actual pass rate was close to 50%, Equal Education said.

Failure to address crisis is 'criminal'

On the plus side, there had been some improvements in the performance of the country's schools in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study assessments, the NGO said, although the improvements were from a "low base".

Access rates to early childhood education were also improving, the NGO said, and the increase in matric qualifications awarded now exceeded population growth.

But South Africa's failure to address the Foundation Phase reading "crisis" was "criminal".

It led to weak outcomes in high school, and proper training and upskilling for foundation phase teachers was critical, said the NGO.

The Early Grade Reading Study showed that children at schools where there was on-site coaching were 40% of a year's worth of learning ahead of schools where there was no coaching, Equal Education said.

The NGO called for the department of education to "drastically expand" the training project, which was piloted in the North West, and for National Treasury to find the money to do so.

The organisation said the matric results announcement provided an opportunity to look beyond "crude matric pass rates" and to look at a nuanced picture of the system.

"This is also an opportunity to call on government to address its most urgent priority: South Africa's literacy crisis," Equal Education said.

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Read more on:    equal education  |  matric 2018  |  matric exam  |  matric results
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