Comprehensive picture of matric exams is needed
THE results of the matric exams have become the subject of intense discussions lately, and I would like to take the opportunity to add my comments.
While the media has published the overall pass/fail situation, it somehow omitted to provide readers and viewers with some important details.
The breakdown of the results in each province with details of the bachelor and ordinary passes is conspicuously missing, as are the performances in each of the main subject areas of maths, science, accounting and English.
Without this breakdown it is difficult to pass any sort of comprehensive judgment on the status of education in our country.
This lack of transparency by not releasing this information is disturbing, to say the least. Maybe it is the intention and design by the officials to prevent a proper analysis of the state of the matric results.
At least we expect the media to play its proper role, obtain these details and present them to the public for evaluation.
The problem with the matric results in South Africa is that they are highly politicised. The results are seen to reflect on the government, the minister and officials of the department rather than a proper assessment of the candidates’ performances.
The adjustment of marks higher and lowering of the pass mark to 30 percent confirms my fears that there is something to hide. This should not be the case.
The tendency is towards quantity rather than quality and this seriously compromises the excellent standards that South Africa had set and maintained even during the notorious apartheid era.
The quality of our education was internationally recognised. I am afraid we cannot say the same of our present standards.
One would expect Umalusi to exercise quality control in addition to its function of ensuring the standards of exam papers, credibility of the exams and marking. It seems Umalusi is falling short in its duty of maintaining standards and posturing to its paymasters. In so doing it is perpetrating a great disservice to our future generations.
Mary Metcalfe, a respected educationist, insults our intelligence by condoning the so-called adjustment of marks by saying it is standard practice.
This kind of adjustment may be necessary in special circumstances, for example errors or omissions in the question paper, but not to give the country a rosy picture of the achievements of the candidates.
Over the years the education authorities have applied a number of quick-fix solutions in order to convince us that all is well in our education system.
You will recall that a pupil who obtained six As failed the university entrance exam – as reported last year.
This in addition to the large number who fail their university studies in the first year and the about 50 percent who fail to complete their university education.
Surely something is wrong somewhere, and the sooner we discontinue our obsession with the overall matric percentage passes, the better.
The final arbiters of quality, of course, are business, industry and professional organisations which will employ these very same pupils.
Let’s hope they provide us with feedback so that the public can make a thorough assessment of our education standards.
The universities also have an important role to play in ensuring that standards are not compromised and work towards higher rankings among universities of the world through promoting teaching, research and development in its true sense.
It’s difficult to pass proper judgment