The 2018 matric results were released last week. There is some progress to celebrate and also a great deal to applaud about the Department of Basic Education Minister’s emphasis, at the release of the results, on the importance of Early Childhood Development and also on her recognition that learners must be computer literate to be ready for the world of work.
However, there is also much to be worried about and much that needs urgent attention, including:
- There are too many learners leaving the system before matric. If you take into account the hundreds of thousands of learners who drop out of school, many of whom remain unaccounted for, the pass rate is more like 40%. This high rate of attrition of learners must be addressed by the department.
- While there has been an improvement in learner performance from 2017 to 2018 in key subjects like Maths and Physical Science, the percentage of learners choosing to do these subjects is not growing and the percentage of learners achieving distinctions in maths is down. We have to increase participation in these gateway subjects, and it is important to identify strategies to aid this effort.
- There has been an increase (by 12%) of Bachelor passes in this set of matric results. This is because, in 2018, the list of designated subjects that allow learners to gain entry into degree studies was revoked and the minimum admission requirements for degree study were changed. Now, subjects previously excluded from the designated list have been included, subjects like Tourism or Consumer Studies. There will now be additional pressure placed on universities even though many learners with Bachelor passes won’t meet university and faculty entrance requirements. There is a definite need for more career guidance at schools to prevent building false hope among learners and to educate them about post-school access.
- While the minister’s emphasis on ensuring that learners have access to a computer is laudable, in a time of economic difficulty “one child one tablet” is too expensive for South Africa to afford and is not the best route to achieving computer literacy. Plus, one child one tablet should not be considered until there is any evidence of the impact of devices on learning. The minister must rather prioritise ensuring all schools have the resources (like textbooks and infrastructure) that they need to be functional. These necessities are stipulated in court rulings and minimum norms and standards that the department must adhere to.
By Concerned Citizen