Credibility of matric results questioned

WITH the final scores tallied and released it’s time to reflect on the 2016 matric results.

The improvement in the matric results came as no surprise especially when high ranking officials from within the Department of Education, as seen on television and print media, make statements of an improved pass rate as a result of the intervention programmes introduced during the year.

These announcements, advocating an improvement in results, can be construed as reverse psychology with the intention of preparing the public for an improved pass rate.

The level of manipulation to improve the number of passes seems to be a contentious issue. The inflated pass rate, especially when “progressed pupils” are added to the equation, is indicative of an education system that favours mediocrity rather than excellence.

Progressed pupils are ones who failed Grade 11 the previous year, but were progressed to Grade 12 in 2016.

The effectiveness of schooling in the public sector needs serious brainstorming. With an education budget of almost R280 billion, South Africa lags behind many African countries in terms of educational excellence. Could the advent of school governing bodies, who are entrusted to select management personnel to the school establishment, be responsible for declining standards in schools.

Its a proven fact that institutions without experienced leadership or personnel, who are installed via corrupt procedures that are endorsed as legitimate, work to the detriment of education.

Ultimately this negatively impacts on the beneficiaries of education, the pupil who pays the ultimate price for dubious decisions made by role players who are supposed to be working in the best interests of the community.

Probably a independent recruitment agency needs to be formed to deal with promotion positions. This will enhance fairness and transparency while at the same time diminishing the risk of collusion and corruption.

The use of statistics used every year cannot be omitted when highlighting the deficiencies in our education system. According to figures released by the Department of Basic Education, 1 100 877 pupils enrolled for Grade 10 in 2014 but only 610 178 wrote Grade 12 in 2016. This meant that 44.6% of pupils either dropped out of the system or remained stuck in Grade 10 and 11.

It’s seems that most of the pupils dropped out of the system, which is a sad reality. A closer analysis of the calculations will show that the “real” national pass rate was 40.2% and not 72.5%.

This cycle continues year on year with no plan in place to effectively remedy the situation. This could be a case of typical lack of educational expertise coupled with a heavy dose of incompetence.

The way leadership positions are filled within the department shows that loyalty trumps competency. It must be categorically stated that education, like the finance ministry, must be given equal status. Education is the backbone of the economy in any country, therefore it is imperative to hold leaders accountable through performance contracts.

The solution must be simple - poor delivery must come with harsh consequences. Those who have not delivered must be given two options - resign or have your services or the lack thereof terminated as soon as humanely possible.

The universal question is whether this can be a reality. Who will have the courage to help the cat … maybe or never.

Vijay Surujpal via email

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