AfriForum congratulates all matriculants who successfully completed their school career in 2016 and also thanks their teachers who made this feat possible.
At the same time AfriForum expresses serious concerns about the official overall pass rate of 72,5% in 2016, compared to 70,7% in 2015. When one considers the number of learners who attended grade one for the first time in public schools in 2005 and completed grade twelve successfully in 2016, the actual pass rate is less than 50%.
“A report of the Department indicates that just over 1,2 million learners enrolled for grade one in public schools in 2005. According to the statistic just announced by the Minister of Basic Education, less than half of this number of public school learners passed the final matric exam in 2016. The Minister’s reassurances that the drop-out rate of learners is receiving meaningful attention are therefore not convincing. It is even more disquieting to note that this unsatisfactory pass rate has been attained despite contentious mark adjustments,” says Alana Bailey, Deputy CEO of AfriForum.
Bailey emphasises that the adjustment of standards and marks for the sake of achieving a higher pass rate does the South African youth no favours.
“Adjusted marks are a quick fix that might help learners to pass now, but will impair them in future due to a lack of knowledge and insight in such subjects,” she said.
According to Bailey it is essential for the Department of Basic Education to accept accountability and display leadership in finding solutions for problems such as a lack of mother-tongue education, inefficient curriculum options, paralysing behaviour by some education unions, inadequate training opportunities for teachers, the dysfunctionality of the majority of public schools and discipline crises.
The most recent youth unemployment figure for the third quarter of 2016 is 47,6%. According to Bailey this seriously impedes the country’s economic growth and endangers its stability, not to mention the personal trauma for young South Africans who become trapped in such a hopeless situation. Bailey states that the Department should stop playing political games and concentrate on empowering matriculants with skills that make them employable, instead of trying to impress with cosmetically enhanced percentages.