There will be “minimal changes” to the matric curriculum this year, says Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga.
Despite experts views that matric does not adequately prepare pupils to get jobs, the minister said the system was stabilising and “we do not want disruptions. All we are doing is to weed out what continues to be a challenge. We keep what works. We are not going to have a major curriculum review.”
Motshekga’s opinion was not shared by Michael Cosser, chief research specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council, who said that annual fluctuations in the number of matric exam candidates and in the pass rate indicated that the department had not succeeded in “getting its act together”.
Furthermore, a Solidarity research paper titled Prospects For 2010 Matriculants showed that most matriculants did not build up proper proficiency in critical subjects such as mathematics during their school careers.
The standard of the matric exam, however, compared well with international equivalents.
A 2009 study by the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi) and Higher Education South Africa showed that the National Senior Certificate (NSC) compared well with equivalent international qualifications.
The research, Umalusi spokesperson Mike Khuboni said, benchmarked the NSC, its curriculums and exams, against those of Cambridge International Examinations and the International Baccalaureate Organisation.
So what can the class of 2011 expect from the department?
English will be phased in as a Grade 1 subject, and the department says it is working hard to solve the problems of inadequate textbooks and some teachers’ qualification levels.
It will begin to phase in more learner-support material at schools, including information communication technology, to help learners in subjects such as maths and science.
The department is also occupied with serious efforts to build “sustained partnerships” with stakeholders including students, teachers and parents, “to get them on board and make sure we have a very smooth 2011”.
She and her department, Motshekga said, also wanted to sustain the “energy and partnerships” that had developed during last year’s strike by teachers.
She referred to the role played by the print media, the SABC, Lead South Africa and ordinary South Africans in maintaining “a positive outlook” for matriculants plagued by the effects of the World Cup and the strike.
The media, the minister said, had played a major role in creating a positive spirit and keeping up the hopes of the 2010 matriculants by telling them that nothing was lost and they could do even better.
These were the kind of partnerships, the minister said, which she wanted to keep intact and to strengthen.
She regarded matric as adequate preparation for the world of work.
“I tell learners that if you have a good matric you are ready to face the world.”
Matric prepared youths for the world of work and the world of higher education, Motshekga said.
“It gives them confidence, self-esteem and the attitude to confront the world.”