New year always brings news reports of parents leaving their young children at school with tears in their eyes - the parents, not usually the children who are exited at the new adventure.
Whatever country you visit, the new school year brings the same pictures. But behind the scenes is there something different going on in South African schools?
In a telephone conversation today a friend pointed out to me that the pass rate has been dropped to 30%. She was talking about a school in Khayelitsha.
So I wonder if skills-universe members who I know are more experienced in these things than I am, can help me with these questions:
I really appreciate members sharing their thoughts on this issue.
Thanks Zerelde for this informative link. I'd like to add a few comments:
1. In my opinion, the issue of the drop-out rate during the FET phase (Grade 10 to 12) is contentious and cannot simply be linked to poor education in the previous years of study (I'm sure it plays a major part). Many socio-economic factors come into play, as well as movement into the FET College system. But from the point of view of a drive to increase Higher Education participation rates, the numbers are frightening. Our research shows that in public schools for 2011, exactly 50% of students dropped out between Grade 10 and Grade 12. Accross all schools the average was 47%, but the indepedent (private) schools decreased the drop-out rate because they had a 30% increase in learner numbers from Grade 10 to Grade 12. In previous years, the drop-out % from Grade 10 to Grade 12 was as follows: 2007 - 43%, 2008 - 47%, 2009 - 47%, 2010 - 48%. So it seems that since the implementation of the NSC the drop-out rate in public schools has increased. Also, on average twice as many students drop out after Grade 11 than after Grade 10. The Department will probably say its drive to get students to the FET colleges is working, but it would be a worthwhile research project to investigate what percentage of students at public FET Colleges do not have a Grade 12.
2. Although the pass rate for Grade 12 has increased every year since 2009, the number of registered Grade 12 learners in public schools has dropped, from 570 849 in 2009, to 543 487 in 2011, to 496 593 in 2011. The total drop is softened by the fact that the number of Grade 12s in independent schools has risen every year.
3. We picked up a worrying trend in the total learner numbers at school over the last 12 years, and specifically in the Intermediate Phase (Grades 4 to 6). For the various phases of the school system, total learner numbers in public schools have either been decreasing, or are flat, or show a small increase:
GET Phase (Grades R to 3) public and independent schools
1999: 3 893 178; 2004: 3 850 660; 2008: 3 715 390; 2011: 3 872 305.
Intermediate Phase (Grades 4 to 6) public schools only
2001: 3 243 894; 2004: 2 839 242; 2008: 3 015 991; 2011: 2 781 641
Senior Phase (Grades 7 to 9) public schools only
2001: 2 862 760; 2004 2 906 845; 2008: 2 715 356; 2011: 2 894 881
Since 2001, the total learner numbers in the GET Phase (all of the above) in public schools have varied between 9.3 million and 9.5 million every single year, without exception.
FET Phase (Grades 10 to 12) public schools only
2001: 1 987 854; 2004: 2 321 345; 2008: 2 487 459; 2011: 2 365 010
So why have our public schools been flatlining over the last 12 years? Shouldn't we have a corresponding increase in school children related to the increase in population? Surely the increase in private schools cannot make up with the non-increase in learner numbers? I don't know. In fact, if you compare total learners in public schools from 1999 to 2011, there has been a 2.4% decrease (from 12.1 million to 11.8 million).
4. The number of public schools in SA has decreased from 26 789 in 1999 to 25 772 in 2004, to 24 751 in 2008, to 24 365 in 2011. Where independent (private) schools made up 3% of all schools in 1999, in 2011 it was nearly 6%. In 2010, income from public schools was R8.6 billion, and from independent schools was R6.4 billion. 60% of public schools are already no-fee schools, and about 86% of all learners in public schools either pay no fees or pay less than R500 per year.
We probably have 3 education systems: the 2 highlighted by Nic, and the private system which is growing rapidly.
5. The number of educators in public schools were 348 362 in 2000, 344 408 in 2004, 378 060 in 2008, and 390 074 in 2011. So we have more educators in fewer schools teaching fewer learners than in 1999.
All stats above are from official departmental reports that can be downloaded from their websites.
This discussion has brought out some interesting information - and raises further questions. Following Des Cross' input, given the continued correlation between race and university drop out rate, your experience is invaluable. The question I have is to what extent have the HE institutions been researching what is best practice in schools based on their student intake? In other words can we identify not only what schools the most successful students come from, but also what best practice does that break down into at the school level? I firmly believe that the race based university drop out rate does not reflect the students' innate ability, but rather their unpreparedness for the university world.
Then Elze raises a good question - what is the policy on retaining students in a grade? If there is no "hold back" policy, then what is the remediation available? Surely if a student has not been able to grasp the work at the previous grade unless they get some additional assistance all further years will pass in a blur of incomprehension?
I'm very skeptical about the percentages as there are so many stages at which they can be affected to achieve a desired outcome but the detailed analysis of how the individual marks are arrived at is fascinating. I definitely agree with the "Pygmalion effect". It is similar to the "wastage allowance" in factories - if you set it at 30% then that will be wasted, if you reduce it down to 5% halleluiah then 5% is what you get. I would think it makes good sense to keep raising the lower pass percentage by 5% per year. I'm convinced that would become the new standard each year - and we would have continuous improvement.