A hard look is needed at our education system

Matric pupils of Parktown Girls High School leave the school in a jovial mood after writing the English paper 1 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Alon Skuy)

Matric pupils of Parktown Girls High School leave the school in a jovial mood after writing the English paper 1 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Alon Skuy)

The DA weren’t the only ones concerned with the numbers released by the education minister.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday stood up and proudly announced a pass rate of 78.2% for the matric class of 2018, up from 75.1% in 2017.

The pass rate for Grade 12s writing the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations rose to the highest since 2013, she added.

“If we exclude progressed learners, we’ll be at 79.4, 0.6% short of the 80% we’ve been clamouring for all the years. So without progressed learners we’d be at 79.4%, but we don’t regret it,” said Motshekga.

A day earlier the Independent Examination Board (IEB) announced its class of 2018 achieved a pass rate of 98.92%, up from 98.76% in 2017.

So all is well with our education then. Or is it?

The Democratic Alliance (DA) don’t seem to think so, highlighting that nearly half those who enrolled in Grade one in 2007 didn’t write matric exams in 2018.

“While the department of basic education (DBE) celebrates this year’s 78.2% matric pass rate, Minister Angie Motshekga has again failed dismally to address the large number of pupils who don’t write matric in the first place,” said DA MP Nomsa Marchesi.

The DA weren’t the only ones concerned with the numbers released by Motshekga.

Lobby group Equal Education (EE) also questioned the pass rate in a statement released before the results came out.

They said research showed the throughput rate of scholars between Grade 10 and matric between the matrics of 2015 to the Grade 12s of 2017 dropped from 41% to 37%.

“Keeping pupils in school and ensuring that they leave school with a meaningful qualification remains one of the key challenges in SA’s public education system,” they said.

The sooner we have a harder look at our education system, the better.

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