Com­pre­hen­sive pic­ture of ma­tric ex­ams is needed

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Rathan B Gar­rib

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

Buc­cleuch

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