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The matric pass rate may have gone up, but any cel­e­bra­tion about this year’s matric re­sults could well be pre­ma­ture.

This was ac­cord­ing to re­sults ob­tained by City Press’ sis­ter news­pa­per, Rap­port, which show the ini­tial av­er­ages in var­i­ous sub­jects that were dis­cussed at closed stan­dard­i­s­a­tion meet­ings.

These marks show that the orig­i­nal av­er­ages of sev­eral im­por­tant sub­jects were in the re­gion of 30%.

Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Angie Mot­shekga this week said the in­crease in the matric pass rate – from 70.7% in 2015 to 72.5% last year – shows that the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem is mov­ing in the right direction.

But raw fig­ures from the depart­ment of ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion and qual­ity con­trol body Umalusi – shared only with role play­ers dur­ing the mark-ad­just­ment process – show:

For math­e­mat­i­cal lit­er­acy the per­cent­age of stu­dents who passed was 71.3%, but the 361 865 can­di­dates who wrote only man­aged to get an av­er­age of 37%.

Ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment’s statis­tics, al­most half of the can­di­dates (46%) got at least 40% for the exam and 4 364 ob­tained dis­tinc­tions, which means the ma­jor­ity would have had to have per­formed ex­cep­tion­ally poorly to pull the av­er­age down so much.

Pro­fes­sor Jo­hann En­gel­brecht, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the SA Math­e­mat­ics Foun­da­tion, said: “The fact that pupils aren’t mas­ter­ing this sub­ject in­di­cates that there’s a big­ger prob­lem at an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of our pub­lic schools.

“Any adult per­son should have the de­gree of lit­er­acy that math­e­mat­i­cal lit­er­acy teaches you. The re­sults are dis­ap­point­ing and con­cern­ing.”

In reg­u­lar math­e­mat­ics, the pass rate of the 265 810 can­di­dates was 51.5%. How­ever, not even the 8 070 dis­tinc­tions in this sub­ject were enough to raise the class av­er­age above 30.8%. Pro­fes­sor John Volmink, chair­man of Umalusi, this week said it was con­cern­ing that sub­jects such as math­e­mat­i­cal lit­er­acy and maths were ar­eas in which pupils’ per­for­mance since 2014 has been crit­i­cally poor. In phys­i­cal sci­ence, the pass rate for the 192 618 can­di­dates was 62%, much higher than the class av­er­age of 35%. A to­tal of 7 043 can­di­dates achieved dis­tinc­tions. Even the av­er­age marks for the non-sci­en­tific sub­jects do not re­flect the op­ti­mism of an in­creased pass rate: Geog­ra­phy: 39% (302 600 can­di­dates with a pass rate of 76%) His­tory: 44% (157 594 can­di­dates with a pass rate of 84%) Con­sumer stud­ies: 44% (43 214 can­di­dates with a pass rate of 97%) English home lan­guage: 54.7% (107 967 can­di­dates with a pass rate of 94%) English first ad­di­tional lan­guage: 49% (547 292 with a pass rate of 97.4%) Ap­proached for com­ment about the fig­ures, Umalusi said the in­for­ma­tion was “con­fi­den­tial”. Chris Klop­per, CEO of the SA Teach­ers’ Union, said the low sub­ject av­er­ages show pupils per­formed poorly in sub­jects like maths. “Year on year, pupils in good schools per­form well, but the sys­tem is fail­ing poor pupils in ru­ral ar­eas.” Mot­shekga and some MECs em­pha­sised there was still a lot of hard work to be done. Nic Spaull, ed­u­ca­tion re­searcher at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity, said 60% of pupils leave the school sys­tem with­out any qual­i­fi­ca­tion. In ad­di­tion, the matric pass rate does not rep­re­sent a com­plete pic­ture. No more than a third of the pupils who en­tered Grade 1 in 2005 passed matric in 2016. Tshepo Motsepe, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion Equal Ed­u­ca­tion, said: “The matric re­sults are not ac­cu­rate be­cause they only show the re­sults of those who have man­aged to stay in the sys­tem for 12 years. It doesn’t show how many have fallen by the way­side along the road.”

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