Matric 2014: Schools manipulating learner promotion and progress - SADTU

Union says desire for better results contributes to the dropout of learners more especially in grades 9, 10 and 11 (Dec 5)


Enrolment, Retention and Throughput

SADTU would like to congratulate the class of 2014 on their achievement in the National Senior Certificate Examination. We want to thank the teachers for their continued hard work and dedication in educating these learners from the first to the last Grade under extremely difficult work conditions.

We are indeed encouraged by the fact that there has been an improvement by the lower ranked schools between Quintiles 1,2 and 3. This dispels the myth that township schools in general are not performing to the required standards.

We welcome the improving performances of districts as fewer attained less than a 50 % pass rate as compared to the previous years.

SADTU is further buoyed by the 88 % pass rate for the learners with special needs who, against all odds, obtained 310 distinctions and a significant number of Bachelor passes. It has always been our belief that there needs to be increased support for teachers in LSEN schools and increased infrastructural investment.

We note that the pass rate of 75,8 % is a 2,4% decline from the previous year's results which is a regression from the upward trend of the past 4 years. This must be a cause for concern to the country in its entirety, as it will have a negative impact on our development trajectory.

We are calling on the successful learners to pursue their studies further at institutions of higher learning and in the Technical, Vocational Education and Training space. For those who did not make it, we want to encourage them to rewrite their exams through the opportunities that will be provided by the Department.

We must register our disappointment however with the uncomfortable reality that the system cannot account for a majority of the learners that entered the system 12 years ago.

Schools are manipulating the learner promotion and progress because of pressure to produce better Senior Certificate results. This contributes to the dropout of learners more especially in grades 9, 10 and 11.

In 2002, approximately 1.1 million learners enrolled in Grade 1 and of these learners, less than 50% wrote the current National Senior Certificate Examination not withstanding those who are repeating, and out of this numbers about 150 000 gained university entrance. We remain with a large number of learners who are unaccounted for. The union is concerned that we don't get a report on the 50% learners that fall outside the system.

A true reflection is that the system managed to produce less than 20% potential university entrants. The rest of the learners achieved low quality passes restricting further development of these learners.

We want to further register our concerns in the following areas:

The drop in the actual number of learners who wrote the examination

The drop in the pass rate by 2.4 % from 78,2 % to 75,8 % which indicates a regress from previous years

The drop in the number of distinctions

A decline in the number of learners taking gateway subjects

The province (KwaZulu-Natal) that registered the most learners also registered the sharpest decline of 7%.

The drop in the numbers of Bachelors passes from 30.6 %to 28.3%.

It must be highlighted that some of the major reasons for the undesirable results is, amongst others, the curriculum. The reality is that this is the first CAPS cohort of National Senior Certificate. The decline may therefore be attributed to the lack of proper professional development of teachers to deliver the new curriculum. The CAPS orientation did little to prepare teachers for implementation. SADTU even had to intervene through its Curtis Nkondo Professional Teacher Development Institute and supported teachers to deliver CAPS.

Another issue that cannot be ignored is the transition that learners go through when they move from one phase to the next. The problem is compounded by the greater demand placed on learners in terms of more subjects and the shift in language of instruction.  The general belief is that the reason some learners perform poorly is because they are taught in a second language. Over the past twenty years much research has been conducted which documents the benefits of using learners' languages as languages of instruction.  The issue of language is critical because of bias towards those whose first language is favoured as the language of instruction.

Whilst we register our concern about the impact of language on teaching and learning, we also want to register the need to promote and elevate high quality indigenous language teaching.

Reported Exam Centre Irregularities

It is with great concern that we received the reports about alleged exam irregularities in several exam centres. Those that were at the forefront of such regrettable acts must be brought to book as they undermined the integrity of the whole system. We are calling for the authorities to ensure that this does not negatively affect the learners and that their future post school prospects are not hampered.

SADTU condemns this act in the strongest terms possible but wants to emphasize that our education system is focused on quantity instead of quality and this inherently puts teachers into an uncomfortable corner with undue pressure.  It is this pressure that sometimes forces schools to commit such acts.

Although we are fully aware of the benefits of attaining the National Senior Certificate, as SADTU we would like to urge the Department to tone down on the misleading euphoria it creates on Matric and give all phases and grades equal emphasis in terms of resourcing and support as this would automatically lead to good matric results.


There is a need to conduct more teacher development in order to empower teachers to be able to teach learners in all subjects, more so in mathematics and science. Empowering teachers is not only essential for their personal and professional development, but it is also critical to the success of the learners they teach.

Resources should be availed to schools to help facilitate learning. More importantly, resources should be provided on time in order to enhance teaching and learning. The timely and adequate provision of resources is central to the production of good results. Learners will perform better when teachers have resources that assist them in their teaching.

Education cannot be seen as a reserve for teachers alone; parents and communities within which schools are located have a responsibility to play their part in the education of their children. Parents complement teachers' efforts to help learners. Their support could be the difference between good and bad results. We also urge the learners to take their education seriously - be disciplined and respect schools as centres of learning.

Statement issued by SADTU, January 5 2014

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