1 in 5 pupils achieve a pass mark of 50% in maths and science

South African Institute of Race Relations


Exactly where is South Africa education and learning heading? Only one in five pupils who wrote matric mathematics and physical science were able to obtain a mark greater than 50% as stated by research provided by South African Institute of Race Relations. Sad to say, over fifty percent of these matric pupils have failed in the last five years.

In 2012, the official national pass rate was 73.9 percent, up from 70.2 percent the year before. According to a study carried out by the Department of Basic Education’s National Diagnostic Report on Learner Performance, only 22.6% of 2012 matrics students were able to obtain a pass rate above 50% in mathematics and 24.2% in physical science.

The proportion of pupils achieving a pass in mathematics of between 70% and 100% decreased from 8.3% in 2008 to 5.9% in 2011 ever since the launch of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) in 2008. This equates to a mere 13 223 pupils who have been capable of achieving 70% or higher for mathematics. The proportion of pupils achieving between 50% and 69% improved ever so slightly increasing from 12.4% to 12.7%. Other sources have published figures that 7% of all pupils who wrote mathematics in 2012 attained a mark between 70 and 100 percent.

The published research also exposed a truly alarming statistic that more than 50% of all pupils who have written mathematics ever since the introduction of the NSC have failed and achieved a mark of less than 30%.

The institute’s research and analysis is based upon information and data made available from the Department of Basic Education and did not include results from the 2012 matric exams.

On a positive note and encouraging for the South African education system, the pass rate for physical science has improved. The proportion of pupils achieving a pass mark of 70%-100% grew from 3.4% in 2008 to 6.6% in 2011. While the proportion of pupils achieving a mark of between 50%-69% increased from 11.5% to 13.9% during the same period. Having said that, following the same pattern and results in mathematics, in excess of 50% of all pupils who have written physical science since the introduction of the NSC have failed.

Following an outcry and widespread criticism of the standard and quality of the NSC, a ministerial committee was established this past year to investigate and probe the NSC.

According to the new NSC system, a Grade 12 pupil would need to obtain 30 percent in three subjects and 40 percent in another three, including their home language. Under the old system, a minimum pass mark of 40 percent on higher grade and 33.3 percent on standard grade was required to pass matric.

A researcher at the Institute,  Jonathan Snyman, , described these statistics and failure rates as a major concern for the country which will undoubtedly have a long term impact on the growth and development of the country.

“The 30% threshold for a pass mark has been criticized for being too low, and the fact that 50% of pupils who write mathematics and physical science cannot achieve even that low threshold indicates not only that there are problems with the quality of teaching in these subjects, but also that pupils have not grasped core concepts by the time they reach matric.”

If requirements were to be brought in line with university standards with a pass mark of 50% , the genuine rate of failure for mathematics and physical science could well be as high as 80%.

Just how long will we have to wait until our leaders and politicians accept the simple fact that there exists a crisis within South African education system?

Just how long will we have to wait for the Presidency to take action and assess the role, responsibilities and results achieved by the Ministry of Education?

Send comments and questions directly to President Zuma and the Presidency

Hotline: 17737
Email: president@po.gov.za
Website: http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/
Fax: (012) 323 8246

Source: South African Institute of Race Relations


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