Tag Archives: Education

Celebrations and concern over the Class of 2013 Matric results

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announces the 2013 matric results
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announces the 2013 matric results


While many students from Class of 2013 are celebrating the release of the latest matric pass rates, many individuals in the eduction sector are asking numerous questions about the quality of the matric results and about the dropout rate of students. There are also questions about the number of students achieving university exemptions.

Basic Eductaion Minister Angie Motshekga announced that the national pass rate for the class of 2013 is 78.2 percent, a rise of 4.3 percent from 2012.

Since the dawn of democracy 20 years ago, the matric pass rate has improved especially over the lat 4 years with a 20 percent increase. President Jacob Zuma described the students from the 2013 class as the ‘best matric class’ since the abolishment of Apartheid.

Zuma reiterated that education has been and will continue to be one of the key government priorities. Motshekga stated that the recent matric results are proof that the education system in South Africa is improving and that it was time to reap the benefits of the hard work of the government and education department.

What is encouraging from the results is that schools from disadvantaged areas showed a dramatic improvement and progress. Western Cape MEC Donald Grant is overjoyed with the province’s results and that the results exceeded the department’s target and expectations. The Western Cape pass rate increased from 82.8 percent to 85.1 percent. Not only to overall pass rate improve in the Western Cape but also the quality of the pass rates. Of the 40,000+ students who passed matric in the Western Cape, 19477 qualified for a Bachelors Degrees.


Concern for SA Education System

There are numerous individuals, education experts, and opposition parties who are still skeptical wight eh recent results and have raised may questions about the credibility of the recent results.

The main over all concerns pertain to the quality of the pass rate, especially when it comes to maths and science and the overall number of students who qualified to further their education and training. There is also a major concern over the number of students who dropped out of school and failed to write their matric exams.

A professor from the University of South Africa’s College of Education, Vuyisile Msile, stated that he is aware that not all students want to enter into the fields of engineering, medicine or finance, however, maths and science still remain crucial. Even though the pass rate for maths and science are showing signs of improvement,  there is still a concern as to the number of pupils attempting to write their maths and science exams.

Another concern is the widening gap and correlation between results and discrepancies between poor and well-resourced school and this remains a fundamental challenge for the education system on  whole. Equal Education spoke out and aired their views about the dropout rate of students across the country.
There were also issues raised by Equal Education with regard to the quality of teaching, basic services at schools and the delivery of textbooks and learning material, which continues to be a crucial issue to be dealt with.

Cope leader,  Mosiuoa Lekota,  has described the quality of South African school education as mediocre and stated that the current leadership of country ‘ is way out its depth and have absolutely no qualms about celebrating mediocrity. Many of the students who have supposedly passed matric will battle to find employment or gain admission to a tertiary institution.”

Over the past few years, South Africa productivity has steadily declined and can be directly attributed to quality of education offered across the country and the high level of unemployment  was a by product of the dismal education system according to Lekota.

Overall, there were more than 700,000 students who wrote the final exams in 2013 and 551 schools were able to achieve a 100 percent pass rate. there were over 67,000 distinctions in 12 main subject areas and the number of students who qualified for a bachelor’s degree increased to 30.6 percent.

Source: sanews.gov.za, news24.com, ewn.co.za,


Motshekga’s brave new plan to improve basic school infrastructure

NGO Equal Education


Finally after 3 years, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has given in to public demand and will make changes to minimum uniform norms and standards for public school infrastructure regulations  and agrees that regulations can be improved upon. There will changes to the previously set time frames and priority will be given to the worst schools in the country.

One of the most significant changes to the minimum uniform norms and standards for public school infrastructure regulations is the time frame for all schools built with mud, asbestos and other inappropriate materials which has been reduced from 10 years to 3 years.

The final  version of the minimum uniform norms and standards for public school infrastructure regulations was finally released on Friday by Minister Angie Motshekga, and now both national and provincial departments of education will be held directly accountable if schools are up to scratch.

The NGO Equal Education after many years of campaigning has finally succeeded in changing the regulations. The general secretary of NGO Equal Education, Brad Brockman, stated that the organization is pleased with the changes and is hoping to work with Minister Angie Motshekga and all education departments to provide decent schools for all learners in South Africa. He said, “ These regulations will be part of her legacy and have the potential, subject to implementation, to improve the lives of millions of children.”

Brokcman did add that the only disappointment for the NGO was that it took so long and many courts applications and threats for the regulations to be finalized and published.

Another significant deadline change for basic services from 10 to 3 years is the provision of power, water and sanitation. The provision of basic services within 3 years is a major victory to the changes to the school infrastructure regulations and “major victory for activism”.

As part of the new regulations and a significant improvement on the draft norms and standards is that all classrooms, electronic connectivity and fencing will now have to be provided within 7 years, while libraries and laboratories will have to be provided within 10 years. All other infrastructure norms and standard will be have to be provided by 2030.

Brockman did add that the NGO is disappointed that MECs are only required to develop their infrastructure plans within the next instead of the 6 months as mentioned in the draft document.

The NGO Equal Education will continue to fight and campaign and make sure that all provincial departments planned, budgeted and implemented the norms and standards fully. they would also make sure that all plans and reports be reported publicly and make sure that all departments be held accountable and on schedule.

Chief executive of the Governing Body Foundation, Tim Gordon, commented on the new minimum uniform norms and standards for public school infrastructure regulations as a positive step forward and a good balance between what was practically possible and what was ideally desirable. “It is clear they have taken into account the submissions that were made. It is certainly improved from the one we had as a draft earlier. A very sensible, reasonable and responsible approach. We hope it will be implemented as well as it has been set out in the regulations.”

Gordon added that even though the final completion date is still 2030, at least the education department’s priorities have changed.

The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa has also commented on the new norms and standards are generally pleased and extremely happy about the amended 3 year deadlines.


SA Education Department trying to defend it reputation once again

South Africa Schools


Once again, the Department of Education is on the defensive and trying to defend its reputation after claim have been lodged that it has failed to deliver on its mandate.

According to reports, the Western Cape based Progressive Principals Association (PPA) is threatening to sue the government and department of education for it failure to deliver on it mandate and tackle the numerous issues and problems in the country’s education system ranging from poor literacy and numeracy skills to delivering learning material.

In a statement released by the education department it states that the government has made progress is a number of areas with an overall improvement in the country’s education system, including the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) programme, early childhood development and the School Nutrition Programme, among others.

Panyaza Lesufi, the education departments spokesperson, has called on all those individuals who are making baseless claims to check their facts prior to publishing “falsehoods that mislead the public.”

Lesufi cited the ASIDI programme where more than 40 schools have been handed over to communities in the Eastern Cape which created more than 7000 jobs during the building process and spent over of R1.28 billion.

“The programme is largely emphasised in the Eastern Cape but its impact can be felt across the length and breadth of the country. The success story of ASIDI goes far deeper than that of bricks, metal and cement. It tells of a human story of perseverance and triumph,” said Lesufi.

Lesufi also stated that the Early Childhood Development (ECD) has also progressed since 1994 with over 19500 registering for the programme. Not only have the number of children in the ECD increased, so has the quality of the programme according to the department.

According to the department, the School Nutrition Programme now provides quality meals to over nine million learners in over 21 000 schools every school day. At the inception of the food programme, meals were only available to primary schools but this has now been extended to secondary schools. Now all learners are provided with quality meals in contrast to the past where only targeted learners were provided daily meals.

Lesufi reiterated that the School Nutrition Programme has been a massive undertaking of the government and it has also promoted the access, attendance and participation in education for learners from the poorest communities. The goal of the Integrated School Health Programme  was to scale up school health services to reach all learners in the schooling system.

The department of education has also claimed that the increase in the pass rate of matric students in their final exams has increased by 3.7% in 2012. Many involved in the education sector of South Africa feel that this figure were slightly fudged and marks were adjusted.
The education department also claims that it has delivered over 50 million textbooks every year as part of its commitment to improving literacy and numeracy skills of learners. Don’t tell the learners in Limpopo about this. I am positive the learners in the province will have a different opinion to this claim.


Recent research studies and reports

Prior to calling on all those who make “baseless claims”, it is Panyaza Lesufi along with Minister of Education who should read the numerous studies and reports that have been released over the past few months relating to the standards and quality of education in the country.

A research study by Nicholas Spaull from the University of Stellenbosch, indicates that Grade 6 pupils are out-performing their teachers in basic mathematics. Read more…

Or perhaps government and ministers should read the comment by Dr Nick Taylor who has called South Africa’s literacy levels a national catastrophe and a disaster for the country and future economic growth. Read more…

A recent study undertaken by Michèle Stears and Angela James from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, has shown that high school matric results are generally a poor indicator of 1st year university performance. In order to improve upon the performance of university students would require that the Department of Basic Education equip high school students with the required skills and competencies as outlined in the department’s policy documents. Students entering university are ill-equipped and do not possess these basic skills and competencies to succeed at university. Read more…

The Council on Higher Education (CHE) also published a damning report on the state of university graduates in the country. The report outlines that the leading cause for the atrocious student performance at university level is primarily due to the inadequate academic performance at school. The report goes on to say that given the current schooling curriculum and systems, there is little hope that the South African schooling system will be adequately be able to prepare matriculants to levels required by higher education institutions in the near future. Read more …

According to the World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report 2013, South Africa is the second worst in world when it comes to mathematics and science and 4th worst when it comes to quality of the educational system. Read more…

Before the government or education department tells any critics to check their facts before making baseless claims, it is the Department of Education and all those responsible for the country’s education system who should read all the research and studies that is being done regarding the state of the country’s education system before claiming victory in the fight to improve literacy and numeracy in our education system.

Source: Image from dailymaverick.co.za


SA economic growth will succeed by building universities

Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande
Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande


Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande believes that in order to ease the student burden when enrolling for university for further education and studies will only come with the building of new universities.

New information has revealed that roughly 21% of all student applications to universities in the country were successful. It is clear that there is an increased demand for higher education in the country.

The aim of the Department of Education is to meet the prescribed goals of the National Development Plan which requires that higher education participation in the country increase from 19.9% to 30% by 2030.

The government has allocated a large portion of the national budget towards education since 2007 and intends to commit a further R6 billion over the next 2 years. In addition, the establishment of the new University of Mpumalanga (UMP) is going to need roughly R7 billion over the course of 10 years.

The establishment of UMP is a clear indication that the government is committed to the transformation process within the education sector and is determined to provide access to education to all individuals in South Africa.

It is  forgone conclusion that higher education contributes to national development and growth, the question is what is the standard of quality of this education. Institutions of higher education and learning play a pivotal role in training students for the labour market and provide individual with the necessary skills to succeed in their careers.

Not only do universities provide teaching, learning and professional development for students, universities and other institutions of higher education provide leadership skills through research and knowledge creation in critical areas of national development. Higher education is not about physical buildings rather it is about the development of cultural and economic life of our communities.

“We therefore expect no Ivory Towers here but rather an institution accessible to all, particularly the rural communities of Mpumalanga, where some of this university’s research will be done. It is from these communities as well as from across the country that it will draw its students. Therefore, there should be engagement at all levels of the institution,” Dr  Nzimande was quoted as saying at the launch of the University of Mpumalanga.

The minister also reiterated the point that higher learning and the establishment of more universities across the country is important in the reproduction and transformation of the society.

“At the University of Mpumalanga, learning and culture should embody democracy and social justice, whilst contributing to transformation, growth and development of the economy. The university must contribute to creating a non-racial and non-sexist egalitarian society underpinned by human dignity, the rule of law, a democratic ethos and human rights,” the minister stated.

Dr Nzimande also highlighted that fact that expansion of higher education institutions across the country must be accompanied by a good quality of education.

Source: SAnews.gov.za


SA school pupils out-perform their teachers in basic mathematics

Economic researcher Nicholas Spaull from the University of Stellenbosch
Economic researcher Nicholas Spaull from the University of Stellenbosch


As matric students commence their final exams, a new research study by Nicholas Spaull from the University of Stellenbosch, indicates that Grade 6 pupils are out-performing their teachers in basic mathematics.

The vast majority of matric students accomplish a mark of between 40% – 49% in mathematics and in 2008 the average mark for maths was 45%. If we consider the outcomes of Spaull’s recent study as an indication of the state of the South African education system and teacher skills, we not only have a crisis in the country but instead a national disaster of epic proportions.

How can we expect the local South African economy to grow and create more jobs for the unemployed or create a breeding ground for entrepreneurs to start businesses, if school pupils are barely competent to solve basic mathematics problem while their teachers, who are meant to guide these learners, are not capable of teaching their pupils.

The research study centered on Grade 6 teachers from disadvantaged schools throughout the country. The results of the study revealed that teachers are not capable of solving basic mathematics problems presented to them. Conclusions may also be inferred that primary school teachers are in all probability no better.

Probably the most disconcerting outcome of the study showed that the top performing Grade 6 pupils easily out-performed some Grade 6 teachers. The very best Grade 6 pupils (5%) had the ability to achieve higher marks on the same mathematics tests that the bottom 20% of Grade 6 mathematics teachers wrote. If this does not result in any red flags and/or warning signs regarding the state of South Africa’s education system, then what is going to jolt our leaders and government to wake up and admit that the country’s education system is in a shambles and crisis.

The study undertaken by Spaull was compiled by conducting a desktop study of the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality 111 report (Sacmeq) which had been performed in 2007. As part of this study, Grade 6 pupils and teachers from South Africa and 12 other African countries were required to write precisely the same mathematics tests. Even though questions were not identical, the difficulty level was the same for all those tested.

Spaull’s is quoted as saying that, “There is a case to be made that teachers who lack an elementary understanding of the subjects they teach can actually do harm to their pupils.”

When will the South African government as well as those given the responsibly of educating and training our youth accept the reality that when teachers do not possess the ability and skills to understand the content that they are teaching then there is a problem, and that the problem ought to be dealt with immediately.

“Teachers who lack a sufficient conceptual understanding of their subject are more likely to employ inappropriate concrete techniques when teaching and use methods that undermine the long-term learning trajectories of pupils,”said Spaull.

The results of the study highlighted the following facts:

  •  No more than 32% of Grade 6 mathematics teachers in South Africa hold the required skills and knowledge of mathematics content knowledge. The average for 14 African countries is 42%
  •  South African teachers were only capable of answering 46% of the questions correctly presented to them
  •  60% of the Grade 6 mathematics teachers from the poorest South African schools have statistically considerably less mathematics content knowledge compared to the average Grade 6 teachers in Swaziland, Tanzania and Uganda.

Spaull concluded from his research and recommended that government reintroduce the controversial teacher competency test which was emphatically apposed by the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu).

As increasing numbers of studies are performed and research undertaken in the country, there is growing factual evidence and data highlighting the undeniable fact that a large proportion of teachers in the country lack the basic required content knowledge in the subject that they teach. This is because of the inadequate teacher training and ineffectiveness of in-service teacher training initiatives.

“In light of this, and following the premise that teachers cannot teach what they do not know, it is a logical imperative that a system of identifying which teachers need what help is urgently required, ” said Spaull.

Sadtu is totally against any competency testing of teachers and that teachers testing is not an option. Mugwena Maluleke, Sadtu general secretary, has stated that the union is totally against any teacher competency tests and that the union does not want them. They would prefer that teachers be provided with further training to further improve their skills and competency.

Well, if this is the case, how can you expect to offer further training and skills development programs to teachers when you have no knowledge or information of the skills that these teachers are lacking. Maluleke does concede to fact that some teachers do not have the ability to do maths however, not because they are stupid, rather for the reason that there are no specialized teachers. “We take people who did history or geography and ask them to teach maths. What do you expect?”

Maluleke has highly recommended that the government and the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga should make it a top priority to open teacher training colleges to provide teachers the necessary training opportunities to specialize in certain subjects and attain the basic skills necessary to teach those subject. Motshekga has stated publicly that her department is aware of the issue and this has resulted in the introduction of the Annual National Assessments.

The question that Motshekga really should answer, is how many assessments do we need to undertake before the government realizes the crisis in the South African education system, and additionally assume responsibility for the problems within the education system. Everyone might point a finger at Motshekga considering that she hold the position of Basic Education Minister, but the current failure of our education system is the responsibility of the entire South African government.

Like many others in the country, I do not believe that there will be any changes in the near future until such time that individuals are held accountable for their actions and that government and leaders assume responsibility for the crisis in the education system. The only people who will and are suffering, through no fault of their own, are our school pupils whose future success looks bleak.

Source: citypress, fundza.co.za (image)