Cutting through the matric results spin - the real facts

06 January 2018 - 16:25
By Katharine Child
Image: iStock

The class of 2017 matric results were presented in a misleading and overtly positive manner‚ according to experts.

When announcing the results‚ Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga spoke of poor schools doing better than wealthy schools‚ lauded the Free State as the top performing province and ignored the skyrocketing number of high school and university drop outs.

But experts have called her out.

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Stellenbosch University academic and educational economist Nic Spaull noted on his blog that the Free State had a huge number of pupils drop out during and after Grade 10.

He argues the province achieved the top pass rate of 86% of pupils passing‚ because those who would fail never made it through to Grade 12.

If one looks at the number of Grade 10s‚ who remained in the system and passed matric‚ Free State only had a pass rate of 36%.

The best provinces are in fact Gauteng and the Western Cape.

If one looks at the number of Grade 10s who remained in the system and passed matric‚ Western Cape had the highest number of passes at 56%.

If one looks at the number of Grade 2s who remained in the system and passed matric‚ then Gauteng was the top province with 58% of pupils passing.

"Any government that prides itself on the few that succeed and ignores the many that fall out of the school system has clearly lost its moral bearings‚" wrote former University of Free State vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen on Facebook.

Jansen also pointed out how people were being conned. "Dear South Africans‚ why are we so gullible? Here goes Minister Angie Motshekga once again leading you by the nose."

He noted:

  • The matric pass mark is very low.
  • Marks are adjusted upwards in many subjects. (In 2017‚ 16 marks were adjusted upwards and 4 downwards)
  • More than half the children who start in Grade 1 do not reach Grade 12. (Between Grade 1 and 12 more than 645‚000 pupils dropped out)
  • More than half of those who qualify for university will drop out of tertiary institutions.

Motshekga also noted the number of bachelor passes‚ allowing pupils to apply for university‚ increased from 26% in 2016 to 28.7% of all matriculants.

But what she didn’t say is that only about two thirds of pupils who qualify for university actually attend‚ according to the Department of Education's own 2017 National Examination report.

Motshekga also failed to explain why 629‚155 pupils started matric and 534‚484 wrote‚ a drop out rate of 15% just last year.

Also‚ in a not entirely fair manner‚ Motshekga praised the better results of no-fee schools‚ saying for every one fee-paying school‚ where between 80 and 100% of pupils passed‚ there were two no-fee schools with the same result.

She noted that non-fee-paying schools had more bachelor passes.

However‚ she didn’t mention that no fee schools outnumber fee-paying schools by four to one.

There are 4‚929 no-fee schools‚ according to the National Examination report. Fee-paying schools number 1‚317.