DA, EFF dispute 2019 matric pass rate, say 'real' number is much lower

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. (Netwerk24)
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. (Netwerk24)

The DA and the EFF are disputing the 2019 matric pass rate saying that the rate is lower than the 81.3% which Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced on Tuesday evening.

The DA believes that the real pass rate is 38.9%. 

"In 2017, a total of 1 052 080 learners were enrolled in Grade 10, yet only 409 906 learners eventually passed matric last year. This means only 38.9% of Grade 10 learners actually wrote and passed matric.

"This is for the most part due to an extraordinarily high drop-out rate, which means that hundreds of thousands of learners are denied the chance to write matric, let alone pass it," the DA's basic education spokesperson Nomsa Marchesi said in a statement. 

"Since 2015, which saw the highest number of pupils who sat to write their matric exam, there has been a steady decline each year. This should be a real and urgent concern for the DBE (Department of Basic Education)."


The EFF also disputes the pass rather but it believes that the rate should be 59%.

"The reported and celebrated pass rate of 81.3% does not take into account 302 537 learners who started Grade 1 in 2008 and were supposed to have written matric in 2019 [and it] is misleading. If we take the total number of all learners who started Grade 1 in 2008, it means the actual pass rate is 59% instead of the misleading 80%," EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said. 

"There are no incentives for schools to prioritise learner retention and lower dropouts. Instead, the main focus is on matric results and schools deliberately hold [back] learners who could have sat for matric but receive average marks. The unwarranted focus on exam taking and repetition of tests throughout the year deprives learners of meaningful learning," he said. 

The DA's Marchesi also added that the department was misleading the country when it came to several underperforming schools.

"The matric results released last night indicate six schools in South Africa are critically underperforming, but a deeper analysis done by the Democratic Alliance can reveal there are in fact 12 underperforming schools.

''This is significant since, by law, the relevant provincial departments need to present a turn-around plan for these schools to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshegka, within three months," she said.

She added that if a school was not included on the department's list of underperforming schools, it was not required to provide a turn-around plan.

According to the DA, an underperforming school is one that attains a pass rate of less than 40% pass rate for five consecutive years. 

Marchesi said only six schools were listed as underperforming in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) School Performance Report in 2019. However, she said there were six performing schools in Limpopo on the 2018 list that were still underperforming in 2019.

"The DA will now urgently write to the minister to seek answers to the burning questions on this issue. Did the department deliberately mislead SA, or did they simply give up on the six schools that were left off the list?" Marchesi asked.

0% pass rate

The EFF noted the increase of schools that achieved a 0% pass rate – up from 12 schools in 2018 to 16.

"This is attributed to the learners being few and being allocated fewer teachers. We reject the system being utilised by the department to allocate few teachers to such schools as the logic doesn't sufficiently accommodate the needs of students," Ndlozi said. 

The IFP said in a statement that on closer inspection of the results on a scale of quantity versus quality, it was clear that qualitatively, the country still had a long way to go.

"The inequality on the quintile grading of schools has been reinforced by these results. Schools that are previously disadvantaged and locked in quintiles 1, 2 and 3 continue to lag behind when it comes to quality passes and only registering increases in the quantity output," IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said.

He said the latest results must be taken with a pinch of salt.

"The biggest question becomes: 'What next?' when you have a higher education system that is ill-equipped for these results," Hlengwa said.

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