JOHANNESBURG – Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane has described the much published “increase” in the matric pass rate as “actually quite poor”.
The 2016 matric pass rate, announced last Wednesday, which included the results of so-called “progressed learners”, increased to 72.5% – up by 1.8 percent from last year’s rate of 70.7%.
The progression policy means that a learner can only fail once per phase and after repeating they are pushed to the next phase even if they have not done well so that they remain within the age requirement of their class grade.
More than 100,000 progressed learners passed, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said during the announcement of the matric results. About 3,000 of these learners managed to get bachelor’s degree passes.
The pass rate increase has drawn widespread comment and, in some quarters, unparalleled praise as a great achievement.
But in a statement on Monday Ndungane said: “Realistically though we should all understand that this represents an increase of only 1.8%. If we are honest we would recognise that this is actually quite poor coming as it does off such a low base.”
He said what was even “more disturbing” was that the authorities generally fail to point out that the dropout rate of school pupils before they even reach matric.
Ndungane said the throughput figures for 2012 to 2014 provide an appropriate illustration.
“In 2012 just over one million (1 103 495) learners enrolled in grade 10. Two years later, however, only 48.3% of those who had enrolled in 2012 were registered as matriculation candidates,” said the archbishop.
“Just more than a third, 36.6%, of the 2012 figure passed matric in 2014; 13.7% obtained Bachelor’s passes and 10.9% passed Maths. (Sadly, if I were to quote the 1995 to 1997 figures we would see that in two decades the situation had worsened in all but one of these categories.)”
He said it was important, however, for South Africans who work and strive to lay a platform for a productive society in which everyone has work and in which poverty is no longer the debilitating factor, to recognise that the matric results of 2016 “are really just mediocre”.
Ndungane said: “Having said that one must nevertheless congratulate the successful matriculants who now stand on the cusp of a new era in their lives”.
He hoped that those who seek work will be able to find it and that those who are going to university use the unique and privileged opportunity they have to prepare themselves properly to serve a country “in which we will all be proud to live”.
“Congratulations too to the educators in the various provinces who played their part in ensuring that the pass rate improved from 70.7% in 2015 to 72.5% last year (when including the results of so-called progressed learners). It is an increase and therefore to be welcomed.”
– African News Agency (ANA)