Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga claims the nation’s National Senior Certificate (NSC) is without question of a high standard, with matric question papers currently being set at an international level.
Motshekga asserted that the NSC pass requirements happen to be higher than the old Senior Certificate, which demanded only six subjects with four subjects passed at 40% and two at 33.3%. When it comes to NSC, admission to bachelor studies demands a pass in four subjects at 50% and the remaining subjects at 30%, provided the home language is passed at 40% and the language of learning and teaching at 30%.
Further more, NSC candidates are required to have seven subjects, as apposed to the old Senior Certificate which required only six subjects.
Motshekga pointed out that the department had expanded the National Workbook Programme to cover Grades 7, 8 and 9, with an allocation of R811 million for growing the distribution network of workbooks to Grade 9 learners for the 2012/13 financial year.
The department will be providing 54 million books this year to learners free of charge to the parent or learner. This is certainly history in the making. Also, in line with the department’s commitment to inclusive education, workbooks for Grades 1 to 6 were modified and are currently being published in braille. furthermore, grade 7 to 9 workbooks are also being adapted for Braille.
The department is without a doubt dealing with the challenge of packaging, delivery and quantity of textbooks with its ultimate objective will be to make sure that each and every pupil has a textbook for every subject.
“Provinces are required to ensure that we centralise no-fee schools purchase of textbooks to increase textbook coverage and to ensure value for money. The department is looking at the possibility that the government will print textbooks making sure that there is an increase in textbook coverage from 45% to at least 85% by 2014,” she said.
The department is going to continue to do a lot more to fast-track the provision and improvement of school infrastructure as a result of the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). The programme has been provided with an additional boost by being part of the work of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Committee.
Soon after the completion of the 2012 supplementary exams along with the release of results, Motshekga reported that the all round pass rate, combining the November 2011 and March 2012, examinations was in fact 72.7%, noting that in November 2011, the department had surpassed 70%.
On the other hand, the minister did raise concern with regards to the the very poor quality of passes in Maths and Science, adding the fact that the focus would undoubtedly now fall on these subjects along with technology.
To enhance the quality and quantity of passes in Maths and Science, the department is planning to implement a new national strategy for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education. It reinforces the Dinaledi Schools programme, which has been given a conditional grant of R99.7 million for 2012/13.
A Maths and Science Indaba is planned for June with key education stakeholders active in the teaching of these subjects.