Pass rate is not the prob­lem

CityPress - - Voices -

On Tues­day, Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga will an­nounce that the matric pass rate has de­clined for the sec­ond time in five years. Crit­ics will be ready to heap blame and find scape­goats for this fall in matric per­for­mance. It is, how­ever, im­por­tant to main­tain a sense of per­spec­tive.

As John Volmink, head of ed­u­ca­tion qual­ity as­sur­ance body Umalusi, said when making pre­lim­i­nary re­marks about this year’s matric ex­am­i­na­tion process, the ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties will not and should not drop stan­dards to give us a false pic­ture of im­prove­ment.

Ex­plain­ing the drop, Volmink pointed to the cog­ni­tive de­mands of the ques­tion pa­pers, the im­proved qual­ity of script mark­ers and lan­guage de­mands on non-English speak­ers.

No doubt, thou­sands of ma­tric­u­lants who did not make the grade will be hurt­ing. How­ever, the un­nec­es­sary fo­cus and pres­sure on matric is mis­placed and hides what could be per­ti­nent struc­tural is­sues within the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

For too long, many South Africans de­cried the low bar for passes in ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, say­ing there was no point in pro­duc­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of ma­tric­u­lants who were ac­tu­ally not well pre­pared for the job mar­ket or ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions.

We should rather fo­cus on en­sur­ing that, be­fore they reach matric, our chil­dren are in­tensely and prop­erly pre­pared while pro­gress­ing through all 11 grades, and that matric is a prod­uct of ad­e­quate prepa­ra­tion, rather than an end in it­self.

Linked to this is a need to in­sist that matric passes are ac­tu­ally in sub­jects that are in line with the eco­nomic re­quire­ments of this coun­try.

The ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem should be able to iden­tify young­sters who have tech­ni­cal ap­ti­tude and who should be ap­pro­pri­ately guided to­wards much­needed qual­i­fi­ca­tions and skills.

Ed­u­ca­tion au­thor­i­ties should work with teach­ers’ unions to find so­lu­tions to ad­dress the short­com­ings in ed­u­ca­tion, which are man­i­fold.

The cor­rup­tion in the sys­tem, man­i­fested by the em­ploy­ment and pro­mo­tion of un­qual­i­fied teach­ers who bribe their way in, should be con­fronted and rooted out.

The prob­lems in the sys­tem are not a mystery to any­one. All that is re­quired is an ad­mis­sion that they ex­ist and a com­mit­ment to re­solv­ing them, rather than be­ing quick to point fin­gers.

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