Which Basic Education statistics matter – and why? We need a fuller picture.

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This topic contains 1 reply, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Jacques de Villiers 2 years ago.

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  • #33722

    sylvia hammond

    In response to the announcement of the 78.2% pass rate for NSC (matric), there has been a welter of print and internet media comments about what that percentage really means.  It is 78.2% of those who sat the exam.  Yes.  But that’s not the number of children who entered the school either at Grade R or Grade 1.

    Based on that number – the matric pass rate of the cohort is approximately 37% they say.  BUT that assumes that  every school child should progress to matric – and surely that is not a reasonable assumption – there will be dropouts for a number of reasons.

    First, children can legally leave school before that age – generally after Grade 10. 

    What are the reason that children would leave at this age – or earlier?

    • First some of them may not survive – given the crime rate, the abuse of young girls, drug use, criminal gangs – there are a number of reasons why they may not survive.
    • Some may leave the country – to immigrate (ostensibly for better prospects) or to return to their home country with their parents – given continuing xenophobia this is not an unreasonable assumption.
    • Then the death rate of parents and number of child-headed households.
    • Or young girls who become pregnant and leave school – willingly or unwillingly. 
    • Given the levels of poverty and unemployment and the ability of the child to produce an income – their parents may simply need the additional income and the children leaving in Grade 10 or 11 may obtain work as they have higher education than their parents.
    • Then there are the children who are never going to be academically inclined, but may be far better off furthering their abilities through a technical training programme – or work for a company that will train them in a craft or trade; not all children need to have a university entrance level – or ordinary grade 12 for that matter – to succeed in their life.
    • Then there are those children no doubt or do not succeed along the way – both as a result of their inherent ability, but also the quality of teaching that they receive and the level of deprivation in which they live.

    But what we desperately do need to know – transparently – and to avoid the “politicking” that goes on, so that we can make up our own minds is:

    • what is the number of children that entered the school system – per year?
    • of that cohort, who left the system, when – and for what reasons?
    • how many children repeated years and how many times? For example: if a child repeated a year once, they may not be expecting to write their matric exam until next year.  They were not lost to the system – they simply took longer.
    • of those who left how many children have entered FET colleges?  The school system may not be able to tell that – but surely DHET can obtain that information from FET registrations.

    Before we rush to judgement we need far more information – from both education departments. 

    With collaboration and more information we have a better chance of identifying the problems and providing tailored solutions.

    sylvia hammond 


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  • #33725

    Tebogo Boroto

    First let me send you compliments of the new season and wish you all the best for 2014.

    I wish that everyone would share the same understanding as you do and we will all be on our way to a better SA that is informed and ready to tackle issues.

     Me thinks there are a lot of doomsayers and for every improvement that comes about we then look for ways to refute and disprove that.

    I am looking forward to a more improved 2014 but we can do better by putting more effort and not resting on our laurels.

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  • #33724

    sylvia hammond

    Hi Tebogo, thank you and all the very best to you for 2014.  I’ve just got out my own Matric results – from the 60s!!

    As far as I can see the pass rate was 33 1/3% and the matric exemption for university entrance was above 40%. So now what exactly is the fuss about a 30% pass rate – it’s almost the same now?

    What has changed that I am missing?

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  • #33723

    Jacques de Villiers

    Good Morning Sylvia and all the best for the new year

    Each year by about September the Department of Education publishes “School Realities”. This publication has been around for a number of years, although I’m not sure how far they go back. It does however give the numbers for each year per grade and so by comparing the “School Realities” of different years we can get a very good picture of what happens before the learners get to Grade 12.

    Hope this helps



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