National dept to buy school books, pass rate probe proposed
A commission to investigate the pass rate in public schools was proposed at the ANC policy conference on Friday, said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
Historically, South Africa had never had good pass rates, she said.
Motshekga, who is a member of the ANC sub-committee on education, said that before 1994 an F on lower grade, which was the equivalent of 33 percent, was regarded as a pass.
"There is an argument that we have lowered the pass rate... [but] we want a commission to investigate trends in other countries."
She said quality and inefficiency were problems in basic education.
"We are experiencing inefficiency in procuring learner support material, and inefficiency in appointing personnel."
She said another problem was infrastructure, which led to overcrowding in classes.
"If there are not enough buildings, children are pushed into a class exceeding the teacher-learner ratio."
She said the ratio was 40 children to one teacher in a class at primary school, and 35 children per teacher at high school.
She said the purchase of textbooks would also be centralised, with the national department buying books for provinces.
"We are not just buying books, we are buying books recommended by experts as the best."
She said the centralisation of book procurement would improve distribution and coverage.
"Countries like Swaziland have coverage of over 80 percent, while SA has just ten percent coverage."
Her department had been under pressure to supply books in Limpopo.
Motshekga said regardless of the problems encountered, the department had been able to improve the matric pass rate countrywide.
"We have improved, but it is not enough. We feel we could do better."
She said improving the process followed when school principals were appointed was also being considered.
"At schools where you have an effective principal, the situation is better, even if the school is not well resourced."