Equal Education on Sunday asked South Africans to spare a thought for those students who had dropped out of schooling before they could even reach matric.
“If half or nearly half of all learners never take matric, this is a major problem in itself,” said the civil rights organisation in a statement, issued ahead of the Department of Education’s release of 2015 results for the National Senior Certificate on Tuesday. Individual results will be available at schools on Wednesday, and in the Western Cape, on Thursday.
“Past cohort matric pass results have revealed that up to 50% of students who start Grade 2 do not end up writing matric with their class, if ever… The majority of these learners fall to the wayside between Grades 10 and 12.”
As such, urged Equal Education (EE), “the matric pass rate needs to be looked at critically”.
EE said if 2014’s pass rate of 75.8% was reconfigured to account for every student who enrolled in Grade 2 in 2004, only 36.4% of these original students actually passed.
There were numerous causes leading to this dropout crisis, it said. One of these was the high number of teacher vacancies in government schools. Perhaps if learners had teachers for all their subjects, they would be more likely to remain in school.
EE also suggested that some students were being “intentionally discourag[ed]” from writing matric examinations by school management.
“Culling arises partly because of a single-minded obsession over the matric pass rate – one that is as much the fault of the media, as the minister [of education], who likes to pull a single, misleading percentage out of an envelope each year.”
While it acknowledged that “thousands of government officials and teachers do their level best”, EE said the country’s schooling system remained mired in “the economic and racial inequalities of the past”.
This week, monitoring body Umalusi announced that the class of 2015 writing the Department of Education’s matriculation examinations had performed poorly in comparison to 2014.
The 2014 pass rate showed a 2.4% point drop from the previous year.
The Independent Examinations Board (IEB) last month announced its 2015 results – recording a 98.3% pass rate amongst its 10 775 full- and part-time matriculation candidates.
Over 800 000 students wrote this year’s set of government examinations. News24