AfriForum today submitted commentary on the education amendment regulation in which the civil rights organisation rejects the proposal that the pass rate for Grade 7, 8 and 9 learners’ first language be reduced from 50% to 40%, while a pass rate of only 30% will apply to all other subjects. This proposal was published in the Government Gazette on 23 February 2018 by Angie Motshekga, Minster of Basic Education, to give the public an opportunity to supply commentary on it.
The Department argues that this amendment will help those learners who must repeat some grade two or three years to advance, as well as to allow the pass requirements of Grade 7, 8 and 9 learners to be aligned with that of Grade 10, 11 and 12 learners. According to Carien Bloem, AfriForum’s Project Coordinator for Education, these problems are however too extensive to be resolved by means of the proposed amendment.
“One of the reasons why learners must repeat some grade two or three years is because they are forced to take English as first language and receive formal education in the language, while it is in some cases learners’ second or even third language. Learners don’t possess the basic reading and writing skills and are also unable to understand or reproduce difficult concepts because they do not understand the subject content,” says Bloem.
The lowering of the subject pass rate will not resolve the problem. Learners must be empowered by means of receiving education in their mother tongue. Furthermore, the skills of teachers need to be sharpened, smaller classes and better provision of study material such as textbooks must be ensured, while the crippling influence of certain trade unions on the functionality of schools also need to be eliminated.
“During a time in which the country is burdened by a high unemployment figure and incompetent service delivery, such a proposal once again evokes concern regarding the education system and children’s future. By continuously lowering standards, school leavers are increasingly becoming less employable. The Department is forsaking its duty towards the youth of South Africa in a tragic manner and AfriForum will not hesitate to take any steps necessary to oppose the proposal,” concludes Bloem.