OPINION: Why matric throughput rate is a better indicator of success

The throughput rate is a better measurement to gauge matric success rates, says the writer
The throughput rate is a better measurement to gauge matric success rates, says the writer
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Equal Education calculates a throughput rate, which considers how many learners who were in Grade 2 in 2009, passed matric in 2019. This year the throughput rate was at 42%, quite a striking difference compared to the 81.3% the Department of Basic Education is presenting, writes Malin Steinsland

Equal Education believe the throughput rate is a much better indicator of the success of the system than the traditional pass rate announced by the Department of Basic Education.

Every year the DBE calculates the traditional pass rate based on how many learners write the matric exams and how many of them pass.

However, what they are failing to take into account, is the number of learners that never make it to matric.

This is why Equal Education calculates a throughput rate, which considers how many learners who were in Grade 2 in 2009, passed matric in 2019. This year the throughput rate was at 42%, quite a striking difference compared to the 81.3% the DBE is presenting. 

Throughput rate is already a better (though not perfect) measure than the traditional pass rate, as it also take into account learners who drop out of the education system before reaching matric. 

What is working in our education system?

The basic education picture is not all bleak. There have been some important, albeit incremental, improvements over the past few years. South Africa has registered improvements in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) assessments, between 2002, 2011 and 2015 - emerging as the the fastest-improving country in grade nine maths and science.

ANALYSIS: Matric results not a good indicator of the health of the education system as a whole

This improvement is admittedly from a very low base. There has also been an increase in proportion of black and coloured youths who attain Grade 12 and a university degree - There is also important progress in ensuring that the education system is more inclusive to learners with disabilities, one of them being the inclusion of South African Sign Language as Home Language.

The Minister has also made commitments to improve the literacy of learners, which is important for their progress through the schooling system.- The DBE has done a lot to improve the availability of data concerning SA's education. As an example, the detailed examination reports published after the release of the matric results, ensures that analysts are able to get a very detailed picture of the results.

- Malin Steinsland is a researcher at Equal Education

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