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Final push towards improved matric results

​​Prof Shireen Motala of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) comments on the 2011 matric results.

Published in : Times Live, 2011-08-29​

About half-a-million matric pupils will begin writing their final exams in less than two months.

SA Democratic Teachers’ Union general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke said he expected an improvement on last year’s national pass rate of 67.8% because winter schools and weekend classes were held countrywide this year.

The union wanted more pupils to be able to attend higher education institutions – in 2010 only 23.5% of candidates gained a university exemption, he said.

“When we call for an improvement in results we are not only talking about numbers. We are talking about quality,” he said.

The president of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA, Esrah Ramasehla, said the 2011 pass rate might be closer to 70% because the school year had not been disrupted by strikes. Last year, thousands of teachers went on strike for almost three weeks.

Shireen Motala, of the University of Johannesburg, said the focus should not be merely on improving the pass rate but on increasing the number of pupils who pass maths and science.

Last year, the pass rate in maths increased by only 1.4% on the year before, and in science by 11%.

Eastern Cape education department spokesman Phila Ngqumba said the province hoped its pass rate would improve by at least 5%, from last year’s 58.3%, despite the problems plaguing the department.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said last week that the cabinet’s plan to take over the Eastern Cape education department had been scuppered by a lack of co-operation by the province.

The Eastern Cape has for years produced some of the worst matric results.

In Mpumalanga, which performed worst in 2010, with a pass rate of 56.8%, preparations were on track to ensure ” credible exams”, education department spokesman, Jasper Zwane said.

Aiming to improve its matric pass rate by 10%, the province was ensuring that teachers were in class teaching for at least seven hours a day and was encouraging schools to hold extra classes at weekends, Zwane said.

Saturday classes were compulsory at the 19 schools that had a pass rate of less than 20%, he said.

The department had established a tutor helpline that pupils could call on week nights for help with home work, he said.

​​Basic Education spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said Motshekga would hold a media conference in a fortnight about pupils’ readiness for matric exams.

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