KZN 2018 Matric Results: Manufactured marks continue to fail thousands of learners

 

Dr Rishigen Viranna

by Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

KZN 2018 Matric Results: Manufactured marks continue to fail thousands of  learners

The Democratic Alliance congratulates the province’s matric learners who have passed their National Senior Certificate Exams. In particular we congratulate those who have done so despite facing numerous challenges, including that of an often dysfunctional schooling system.

With a 3.3% increase in the province’s pass mark, taking the figure to 76.2%, many of KwaZulu-Natal’s matrics will be in a celebratory mood. However, the reality is that of the approximately 250 000 learners who began Grade 1 in 2007, only 157 000 wrote matric this year. The figure is even worse nationally, with almost half of the learners who enrolled in Grade 1 in 2007 not writing matric in 2018.

To add to this, KZN also recorded the highest number of progressed learners country-wide for 2018 with 35 534 learners – an increase of 7 881 over the previous year. This figure raises serious questions when it comes to the quality of education our province’s learners are receiving.

The DA regards these factors as an indictment against KZN Education MEC, Mthandeni Dlungwane and his Department. They have failed to deliver on their promises and raised the hopes of thousands of learners. If ever there was proof that the ANC only cares about Education as a pre-election tactic, then this must be it.

It is clear that our young people are being failed by an ANC-led education system – one that only cares about the matric pass rate while thousands of learners fall through the gaps on the way there.

Without a Grade 12 these young people have little hope for the future. They make up what is fast becoming a ‘missing generation’ – young people who are missing from society, missing out on opportunity and missing the chance to escape an ongoing, devastating cycle of poverty.

This speaks volumes about the state of education in our country. This is the true measure of what we are facing. The question is – what will become of them as the ANC continues to deny its responsibility for their futures?

Apart from the high drop-out rate, another very serious issue which must be addressed by the MEC and his Department is the modularisation of subjects in terms of the newly adopted Multiple Exam Opportunity (MEO).

Administratively the system also does appear to work with no results forthcoming from the June/July 2018 exams. If these learners aren’t finishing their exams, they are just being dropped from the system to inflate provincial pass rates. So, not only are learners dropping out or getting stuck before matric, we now have the potential to lose thousands of learners who don’t complete the MEO.

The DA is aware of some KZN schools are implementing this method simply to attain higher pass rates. We have also been informed that many parents and learners are also confused by the system as a result of a lack of consultation.

Within some schools, those so-called academically weak learners are simply being told that they will not be writing all their subjects while there are also reports of a shortage of resources to help them when they do try to prepare to write outstanding subjects at a later stage.

A DA-led education department in KZN would tackle the following urgent challenges head on by;

- Refusing to tolerate SADTU’s ongoing strangle-hold over education within our province which has allowed politics into classrooms to the severe detriment of learners
- Implementing youth skills from foundation phase level in order to produce good matric results. It is shocking that, according to PIRLS, 78% of Grade 4s in our country are functionally illiterate and
- Ensure proper teacher training in literacy & numeracy. The DBE’s annual report showed that it had not achieved 50% of its training targets with almost 25 000 teachers that should have been trained in numeracy and literacy not trained.

These are obvious interventions yet MEC Dlungwane and his Department do not seem to be fighting for the rights of our learners. In the DA-run Western Cape, we continue to keep learners in school and maintain the lowest dropout rate in the country. We will keep fighting for learners to have the best possible start to adult life, unlike the failing ANC which simply drops struggling learners to inflate their pass rate.

A good quality, timely matric qualification is essential for school leavers to further their education and training and secure jobs to put an end to the cycle of poverty.

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