Sometimes in January 2017, the Democratic Alliance (DA) party alleged that learners were culled to inflate matric pass rate.
DA offered an extensive analysis of the 2016 matric results which revealed a high drop-out rate. And with that, demanded investigations into what it said was a deliberate culling of learners to inflate matric pass rate. The real 2016 matric pass rate was 42.7% and not 76.2%, DA proclaimed.
The Department of Basic Education reacted, dismissing the DA claim as nonsense, ridiculous and disappointing.
Contradicting DA’s postulation that schools ensured fewer weaker learners write the matric exams in order to push up their pass rate, Basic Education asserted that it severally progressed learners who had failed in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase.
“…We pushed an additional 65 673 learners through the system who sat for the November examinations at the risk of a drop in the percentage,” stated the department.
Now, it has been confirmed that Principals truly, deliberately hold back learners to inflate their school pass rate. According to the DA, this confirmation was made by a Deputy Director-General in the Department of Basic Education.
Based on the development, the DA asked Ms Nomalungelo Gina, the Chairperson of the Basic Education Portfolio Committee to demand that Minister Angie Motshekga briefs the committee on what she is doing to stop the practice.
“…A key reason for the Free State achieving the highest matric pass rate in 2016 was due to the relatively low proportion of learners who go on to write matric in that province.
“…Weak learners in some schools and provinces are encouraged not to write matric in order to artificially inflate the pass rate – a practice known as ‘gatekeeping’ or ‘culling’.
“…The Department of Basic Education’s figures (show that) 1 100 877 learners enrolled for Grade 10 in 2014. But, only 610 178 enrolled for Grade 12 in 2016. This means that 44.6% of learners either dropped out of the system altogether or remained stuck in Grade 10 and 11,” DA stated.
Reiterating that Free State’s claim to be the best performing province is misleading, DA wailed that it is unfortunate certain Principals and education officials are holding back learners just to “game the system”.
“We need to know who these Principals are, how widespread the practice is and what the consequences are for those found guilty of manipulating statistics and the lives of our learners,” DA charged.