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Just what does the 1.8% improved State schools matric pass rate (of 72.5%) mean in the light of a recently overhauled curriculum, disproportionately-powered teacher unions and compared to the private schools 0.37% improvement (to a 98.3% matric pass rate)? Perhaps the answers lie in reviewing relative outcomes. We’re obviously not getting bang for our taxpayer buck in the huge spending on Basic Education (R213.7bn) in the 12 months ended March last year, (equating to 15 percent of the total budget). That’s a higher budget proportion toward basic education than the US, UK and Germany. The State matric results continue to fall woefully short of our desperately needed skills and knowledge requirements – in fact they represent, an overall dumbing down of education. Here’s another comparison; South Africa’s primary-education system was rated 126th out of 138 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2016-17 Global Competitiveness Report, while its higher-education and training system ranked 134th. Those are the numbers we should be trying to improve by accurately identifying the blockages (teacher training, teacher quality and teacher allocation being probably the most vital) – not flailing about in debates about how much more difficult the curriculum is, justifying why there were 18 State schools at which not a single matric learner passed or studiously ignoring the 40% drop-out rate. Most certainly, boasting that the national school pass rates rose for the first time in three years alone, won’t cut it. – Chris Bateman
by Mike Cohen
(Bloomberg) — South Africa’s national school pass rate rose for the first time in three years as the government boosted spending on education and teachers got to grips with a new curriculum.
The proportion of successful final-year students at state schools increased to 72.5 percent last year from 70.7 percent in 2015, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Wednesday. More than 828,000 pupils wrote the examinations, the most yet.
“The performance of South African learners is improving,” Motshekga said in a speech in Midrand, north of Johannesburg. “We have to further improve the outputs of the schooling system.”
After climbing for four straight years, the pass rate deteriorated in 2014 and 2015 after a curriculum overhaul. Despite the improvement last year, the government still has some way to go to turn around an education system that was tailored to the needs of the white minority under apartheid rule, which ended in 1994. South Africa’s primary-education system was rated 126th out of 138 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2016-17 Global Competitiveness Report, while its higher-education and training system ranked 134th.
Poor educational standards have been a constraint on growth in Africa’s second-largest economy and fueled a 27.1 percent jobless rate. Business executives canvassed by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum considered an inadequately skilled workforce as the third-most problematic factor for doing business in South Africa, after government bureaucracy and restrictive labor regulations.
Equal Education, a civil-rights group, said the final-year pass rate was a superficial and misleading indicator of the quality of the public-education system and obscured the fact that more than 40 percent of pupils dropped out of school. The government persistently over-invested in educating pupils in their final year, while the need was greatest for those in the early grades, many of whom had to contend with overcrowded classrooms and whose teachers were given inadequate support, the group said in an e-mailed statement.
The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party questioned the integrity of last year’s results after a review panel upwardly adjusted marks for 28 of the 58 subjects – a decision justified on the grounds that the examinations were more difficult than in previous years.
— Gavin Davis (@gavdavis) January 4, 2017
“No evidence has been put forward to demonstrate that these papers were of a higher standard,” Gavin Davis, the party’s education spokesman, said by e-mail. “There is reason to believe that the standardization process may lead to an artificial inflation” of the pass rate.
South Africa spent R213.7bn ($15.7bn) on basic education in the 12 months ended March last year, or about 15 percent of the total budget, and the allocation is projected to rise an average of 7.4 percent annually over the next three fiscal years, according to the National Treasury. The country allocates a higher proportion of its budget toward education than the U.S., U.K., and Germany, United Nations data shows.
Matric pass rate up slightly, despite ‘progressed pupils’
By Jeff Wicks
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