Matric pass rate ‘mirage’
40%: NEARLY HALF IN GRADE 11 LAST YEAR ARE NOT IN GRADE 12 IN 2020
Throughput rate from Grade 1 to passing Grade 12 is only 37.6%.
As schools re-opened last week, trends for the past three years reveal about 40% of pupils who entered Grade 11 last year have not enrolled for Grade 12 this year.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced on 7 January a 81.3% national pass rate for the 2019 National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams, up from 78.2% the previous year.
But Democratic Alliance (DA) education spokesperson Nomsa Marchesi said that taking into account the throughput rate – the number of pupils who started Grade 1 in 2008 against how many passed the NSC last year – only 37.6% wrote and passed at the end of Grade 12.
Calculating the NSC pass rate against pupil throughput, which the DA calls the “real” pass rate, changes the provincial rankings and moves the DA-run Western Cape up from fourth spot to second with a 50.7% pass rate, while Gauteng takes the lead at 58.8%. The Free State, which had the highest pass rate of 88.4%, drops to 42.8% and the fourth spot.
In the Free State, 13 026 pupils left the school system in the decade between Grade 2 and Grade 11. But 14 183 pupils left in just one year, between Grade 11 and 12. Nationally, 323 374 pupils did not move through from Grade 11.
Looked at this way, Gauteng and Western Cape are still the best performing provinces, although the results are grim across the board. These provinces have largely urban populations, where schools are better equipped than in rural areas. Gauteng and Western Cape also have lower percentages of households living in poverty. Limpopo is in third place in this analysis. This is surprising because of its high household poverty rate (55.4%)
Free State is fourth. Eastern Cape and Northern Cape fare worst in terms of pupils staying the course and matriculating after 12 years of schooling.
Mary Metcalfe, former Gauteng MEC for education, weighed in on Twitter with another way of looking at the data. She tweeted a graph that the department of education included in its 2019 NSC examination report.
The Grade 12 attainment graph by Statistics SA based on household survey data shows the percentage of youths per province who completed matric. Gauteng has the highest percentage aged 20 to 28 who finished Grade 12. The Eastern Cape fares worst. This is also skewed by migration between provinces. And even Gauteng’s percentage of 60 to 65% of youths aged 28 or younger with matric is dismal.
Western Cape education MEC Debbie Schafer attributed the high drop-off rate to “culling” pupils between Grades 10 and 12 to improve the matric pass rate. Schafer said “culling” involved “losing weak pupils along the way so that schools and provinces can achieve a higher pass rate”.
“When 20% or more of a province’s entered candidates for the matric year do not write their exam, it is difficult to explain this away without considering that some may have been kept back on purpose. We have heard reports of this,” said Schafer.
A Gauteng teacher with 12 years experience in state schools and five years in the private school system, disputed that culling takes place on such a large scale, or that holding back poorly performing pupils was bad.
The teacher, who cannot be named, said culling, in which pupils were asked to leave prior to Grade 12 as they were unlikely to pass, happened at private schools that wanted to maintain their 100% pass rate. But it was not widespread enough to account for a significant percentage of the large drop-off between Grade 11 and Grade 12.
Other factors, such as family disasters, meant a pupil might leave school to care for a family member or contribute to income. Also, many pupils, on reaching Grade 10, left to pursue Grade 12 equivalent (technical) qualifications. Some left school before Grade 12 as they had developed businesses. Many pupils who were struggling were persuaded to repeat Grade 11. This, she said, was in their best interests.
Martin Gustafsson from the ReSEP Research Group at Stellenbosch University said the drop-off between Grade 10 and Grade 12 was inflated by very high levels of grade repetition and did not represent actual drop-off levels. “But there is still massive dropping out in the sense that 45% of youths do not obtain a NSC, and only another 3% obtain an NSC equivalent, without also having the NSC.”
He said there were no properly calculated dropout rates due to insufficient data.
Republished by GroundUp
There is still massive dropping out
NEW SLANT. Properly analysed, the rising matric results offer no cause for celebration.