So, I think it is time the euphoria about South Africa’s miraculous climb in the matric pass-rate to 67.8% (up 7.2%), should be brought back down to earth! Yesterday, I asked the question, Is passing matric an accomplishment at all?
The Sowetan published the story above on 7 Jan 2011, concerning the true pass-rate of those that wrote their matric exams in 2010. A total of 643 546 wrote matric and only 364 513 passed. That makes it 56.64% that passed, meaning that 43.36% of pupils failed matric in 2010. The department of education (DoE) hit back, saying that the figure of 67.8% is correct, stating that the Sowetan
But, not so quick! Those pupils that failed previously, and have now rewritten their exams, surely they passed this time, should be seen as a boost to the pass-rate! Since these pupils failed in 2009, and they are not included in the pass-rate in 2010 (even though they wrote and hopefully passed this time around), according to the DoE, these people are never part of a passing calculation!“took the total number of learners registered to write exams and included part-time candidates (repeat candidates who failed previously) to do their calculation. Learners who failed before only write subjects that they failed and this number is not included in the total figure.”
Even if that is the way that the DoE calculates the pass-rate, the question as to why suddenly only 537 543 matrics wrote the prescribed seven subjects in 2010, a whopping 14 530 less than the 552 073 full-time candidates in 2009 must be answered truthfully and sufficiently! To further complicate the issue, the question as to why the national number of part-time candidates more than doubled – from 39 255 in 2009 to 82 835 in 2010, must also be answered! Based on these numbers, Carien Kruger and Gershwin Chuenyane writes that
“[t]hese figures have led to claims that schools were weeding out weaker learners, forcing them to become part-timers to ensure a good pass rate.”The problem with the results of 2010, is that there are just too many questions regarding the results. It really looks like there has been some fudging of the actual data, and the way calculations are done. If the financial officer of a company is caught doing that, he will be fired and criminal charges could be laid against him. Why is it so different with our matric results?
Wouldn’t it be better to know the exact state of our educational system? An alcoholic can only be helped if he admits with honesty that there is a problem. While he lies to himself and others about his problem, and its extent, he cannot be helped! It is the same with our DoE. While they do not admit to the extent of South Africa’s educational problems, they cannot be helped! The cure for our educational woes can only progress to the extent that the DoE acknowledges its problems, and owns up to the problems it has created with its terrible policies!
My guess is that the DoE, and Umalusi, will continue to hide the true facts behind which subjects were adjusted upward (or downward) and why, and also why those subjects were not adjusted across the board, but rather selectively.
Time will only tell where our educational system will go in the future. The hope is that it will improve, but don’t hold your breath!