THE REAL MATRIC MARKS
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.”