South Africa’s latest matric pass rate shock


Just 8% of the 78,363 ‘progressed’ students who wrote matric over the last year passed their exams, the Sunday Times reports.

Progressed learners are pupils who were pushed through to matric after failing grade 11 more than once.

These pupils were given two opportunities to write their papers – once in November and once in June –  through a system known as the multiple examination opportunity.

This system is offered to progressed pupils who fail a minimum of three subjects in their preparatory exam at school.

However, statistics provided to the Sunday Times by the Department of Education shows that some pupils did not even complete all their remaining papers in the second set of exams.

Of the 88,828 candidates who sat for three or more subjects in November, only 78,363 completed the rest of their papers in June.

A total of 260 of the 6,270 learners who passed obtained admission to bachelor studies.

Set up to fail

Speaking to the Sunday Times, basic education spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said these learners’ performance “cannot be looked at in terms of percentages, but must be looked at in the context of the number of candidates that were rescued from being labelled as just another drop-out”.

However, education experts said that these students were being set up for failure.

“False hope through forced progression to these pupils impacts negatively on their self-esteem, especially when they fail despite the concessions given to them.” said Professor Labby Ramrathan, of the School of Education at the University of KZN.

He added that progressing pupils does not address the underlying problem.

“Lowering the workload for writing a full set of exam papers by progressed pupils is an incorrect assumption.

“They have conceptual difficulties in knowing and understanding the subject content and therefore even writing one paper at a time will not make any material difference to the pass rate.”

End of multiple exams

Another issue is that some schools were deliberately encouraging pupils to opt for this route instead of writing the full exam at one go.

To combat this abuse, in March the Department of Education announced that it will be scrapping Multiple Examination Opportunities (MEOs) from 2020.

Originally introduced in 2017, the system allowed struggling matric students to complete their examinations over two years.

A number of criteria needed to be met before students are allowed to qualify for the “Multiple Examination Option” (MEO) including:

  • The learner writing the exam must be a progressed learner;
  • Have completed all his/her SBA requirements in all seven subjects;
  • Have attended school regularly (not absent for more than 20 days without a valid reason);
  • Have written the Preparatory examination (prelims) in all subjects;
  • Have failed a minimum of three subjects;
  • The learner selecting the Multiple Examination Option must write a minimum of three subjects in his first year (excluding LO) and must have written all seven subjects by the second year.

Under the revised system, there will now be one end-of-year exam for all matriculants irrespective of their performance during the year.

“We had to acknowledge that while well-intentioned, the Multiple Examination Opportunity is being used by some schools as a gatekeeping mechanism and not for its original intentions,” said Basic Education minister, Angie Motshekga.

“Instead of assisting vulnerable learners to attain a matric certificate, it was allowing schools to cull learners through this process and not adequately supporting them through the multiple examination opportunities.

“For this reason, we took the bold decision to protect learners and do away with the MEO from 2020,” she said.


Read: Matric vs diploma vs degree – how much you’re likely to get paid in South Africa

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Publish date : 2019-08-25 06:00:19

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