Western Cape MEC for education, Debbie Schafer has heaped praised on the province’s class of 2015 after it secured the highest overall pass rate in the country. Not only was the Western Cape’s 84.7% the highest amongst all nine provinces, but it was also the only pass rate increase from the 2015 NSC exams.
In the same breath however, the minister expressed her concern that the national pass rate had dropped from 75.8% in 2014 to 70.7%.
“Nationally it is concern because we are the only province to have increased our results. The top two provinces were actually not bad at all, but the ones that have really dropped significantly are extremely concerning, particularly given that they have the majority of the learners in their provinces,” she stated.
Schafer attributed the provinces’ successes to “sustained interventions” on the part of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), not only to matric students but across all areas of the education system.
“We’ve been giving extra assistance to our matrics, we’ve had extra classes during holidays, and we’ve also given extra assistance to the progressed learners,” she noted.
The national pass rate’s decline has been attributed to a record number of ‘progressed learners’; students pushed over to the next grade despite failing to meet the pass requirements. Schafer said the policy that affectively forced schools to promote learners was of particular concern to the WCED, especially in the manner it was being implemented.
“Progression as a policy itself is an international phenomenon, but it has been very clear to us that when people are progressed they should be given extra assistance to ensure they get up to the level they should be at. That has not happened, which has been very frustrating for many of our schools and teachers because the learners are just not able to cope,” she explained.
The province was forced to double the number of progress in 2015 from that of the previous year.
Schafer added that the WCED were eager to make improvements to the education system in areas it felt could be improved. This included trying to retain learners throughout the system from grade 1 until matric.
“A huge part of our strategy in that respect is to focus on the foundation phases. We are implementing a programme this year from grade R to 3 to improve literacy, because very often our learners are not able to read at the proper levels when they get into high school,” she concluded. VOC