Johannesburg - The spotlight on matric results is allowing the crisis in primary school education to remain in the shadows, Equal Education said on Wednesday, ahead of the release of the Department of Basic Education's Grade 12 pass rate.- Get your matric results first on News24"The matric pass percentage is a superficial and misleading indicator of public education quality - particularly as extensive analysis reveals an ongoing crisis in primary schooling in South Africa," said the rights organisation in a statement."Early learning is currently crippled by difficulties, including overcrowded classrooms and lack of support for early childhood development (ECD), and foundation phase (Grade R to Grade 3) teachers.” According to a study cited by Equal Education, by Grade 3, children in the poorest 60% of schools were already three years worth of learning behind students coming from more affluent backgrounds."By the time these children reach Grade 9, they are five years worth of learning behind."For most learners, passing matric well and potentially obtaining a university degree is already largely unattainable by the time those learners reach the end of Grade 3."State of educationEqual Education added that the actual matric pass rate was, in itself, misleading in terms of offering an accurate picture of the state of education."For one, the pass rate reflects only the performance of those learners who managed to stay in school for 12 years, and obscures how many dropped out along the way."The organisation suggested that the intense focus on the pass rate often became counterproductive.Teaching students to answer specific test questions, rather than equip them with wider-ranging skills, was one of the problems."Gaming", "culling", or "gatekeeping" - when students were encouraged to stay back, or only take particular subjects to keep up a school’s pass rate - were also destructive."The matric exam mass-copying uncovered in the Eastern Cape and in KwaZulu-Natal, in particularly poor and under-resourced schools, is arguably a symptom of this be-all and end-all perspective."As such, Equal Education suggested that, instead of the "annual shindig that is the national matric results announcement," Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga should "use her elaborate stage to report comprehensively on literacy and numeracy outcomes for foundation phase learners".The national matric pass rate is expected to be released to the public in the early evening on Wednesday.