SADTU WELCOMES THE 2017 MATRIC RESULTS
The South African Democratic Teachers’Union (SADTU) is the largest union in the education sector representing more than 260,000 teachers and education workers. SADTU welcomes the 2017 National Senior Certificate (Matric) results. The Matric Class of 2017 is the fourth Grade 12 cohort to write these examinations under the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and the 10th cohort to sit for the National Senior Certificate. We believe the system is gradually maturing, hence the improved results. In 2016, the pass rate was 72,5% and in 2017, we have recorded a 75.1% pass rate.
We commend the learners as well as the teachers for their dedication and hard work which ensured these results. Many of our members, sacrificed their holidays and weekends preparing the learners for these crucial examinations. However, as SADTU, we would like to reiterate our caution against the obsession with the matric pass rate.
It is indeed true that matric is the summation of twelve years of basic education schooling, but we cannot say it is the true indicator of the health of our education system judging by the huge numbers of learners who fall by the wayside and never finish schooling. A total of 1 182 011 learners entered Grade 1 in 2006. Twelve years later, 798 289 full and part-time learners entered Gr 12 in 2017 and only just about 543 000 wrote the matric exams.
We have seen a decline in the number of progressed learners who wrote the examinations. 104 001 wrote in 2017 compared to the 108 742 who wrote in 2016. Firstly, as a Union we lament the fact that there is evidently inadequate support provided to progressed learners and the teachers. We are therefore calling on the Department to invest more resources and deploy more teachers to give support to these learners.
We call upon the learners who are going to exercise the Multiple Examination Opportunities(MEOs) to go back to their schools and register for such programmes. Learners must ensure that where the department has made promises to assist them such is honored 100%. More resources and in particular more teachers to assist these learners must be availed because basic education is a right that is not limited. SADTU will also monitor that such learners do not form part of the dumping model called modularisation. We call for more programmes and resources for the learners opting for the MEO.
Quality passes and the performance of Quintiles:
While we appreciate the 28,7% Bachelor passes, our concerns are that the figure has declined from 2016. This country needs quality passes to open the doors of learning in institutions of higher learning. However, we are heartened by the fact that learners in Quintiles 1 to 3 continued to perform better, a trend that began last year. They accounted for 53% of Bachelor passes. A total of 76 300 learners from Quintiles 1,2 and 3 received Bachelor passes while 67 867 learners in Quintiles 4 and 5 obtained Bachelor passes.
This is a change from the past when Quintiles 4 and 5 used to account for the bulk of Bachelor passes. The KwaZulu Natal Province whose schools are in the majority, rural and township schools, had the highest Bachelor passes.
Our members have achieved this improvement under trying circumstances teaching overcrowded classrooms with limited resources. The children of the poor and the working class are now afforded an opportunity to enrol at institutions of higher learning and this will change the course of their lives, their families and communities.
We have further noted and are encouraged that there has been a steady overall improvement of learners who are social grant recipients. These learners have recorded no less than 5016 Bachelor passes and 5997 Diploma passes. This represents two important factors, firstly, it highlights the importance of proper socio-economic support for the down trodden and that this must not be taken for granted particularly by the powers that be, secondly, it highlights the critical and commendable role that the members of SADTU in particular play in the most challenging of circumstances to support these learners who would have otherwise been condemned to a future of poverty.
We are pleased with the steady upward trend in the marks of subjects such as Mathematics, Maths Literacy and Physical Science. However, we are concerned by the decline in the marks of subjects such as Visual Arts and Dramatic Arts. We have always been staunch advocates of a holistic approach to the learning and teaching process. Any education system must value the role that subjects in the arts stream play in the context of nation building particularly in a country as diverse as ours. The arts can be utilised to tell our own stories for generations to come and build a common nation hood in a country that has gone through years of divisions.
We are also concerned with the percentage decline in subjects like Accounting, Business Studies and Agricultural Sciences. These declines are recorded at a time when there is general consensus about the urgent need to drastically improve on the output of young South Africans with the required entrepreneurial skills to drive the economy. Secondly, we need to embrace the agricultural sciences as a way towards the diversification of our economy as envisioned by the National Development Plan.
In the 2016 Matric results, we saw a disturbing decline in the marks of vernacular minority languages. This unsettling trend seems to be continuing unabated since a decline has been recorded in 2017 for amongst others, sePedi, isiNdebele, TshiVenda and XiTsonga. Such a downward slide reflects badly on our education system. It depicts a picture of a system that has no thorough plan for its own upliftment but is crisis driven. In an education context, this would be a classical example of robbing Peter to pay Paul as some subjects are now clearly being prioritised at the expense of African indigenous languages. It must be emphasized that languages are about identity, culture and nation building as well.
We are still calling on all subjects to be given the same attention. This must directly lead to adequate resource investment such as learning and teaching material and the required training and development of teachers.
As we look into the future, we wish to express our deep concern with the current discourse on the question of free higher education. As a Union, we have always been on the fore front of the call for free quality public education particularly for the poor and the working class; we have always conveyed our perspective for education to be a public good not only in theory but in practice as well. Teachers and a prodigious majority of public servants have been classified as the “missing middle” when it comes to higher education access.
We thus welcome the resolution by the ruling African National Congress to increase the combined house hold threshold for qualification for one or another form of financial assistance from R350 000 to R600 000.
We are hopeful that post the announcement of free higher education from 2018 by the state President, the relevant government Ministries being the DHET and Treasury will provide the country with some insight on how this noble objective will be practically rolled out. It remains our view that whilst it will be challenging to provide free higher education for all in an inherently capitalist system, it will not be impossible to do so particularly for the poor and the working class.
We are further encouraging all prospective university students to be cautious of opportunistic calls made by some political formations for those who would not have received an opportunity to apply for admission to go to a university of choice and demand registration without any due consideration of factors like the availability of space for particular courses.
Such uncalculated and misplaced calls will instead endanger their lives and potentially lead to undesirable scenes which would be an anti-thesis of what is otherwise a legitimate struggle for access.
Furthermore, it is our perspective that a paradigm shift about TVET colleges and their role in our development as a country is necessary now more than ever. Prospective students must be encouraged to consider enrolling in TVET colleges as another option instead of viewing them as dumping sites. In any skills revolution TVET colleges play a cardinal role and it is what is needed to boost our economic.
Lastly, we wish to caution the country once more about the cancer of privatization in our education system. The tentacles of private hands are rapidly making their way towards every corner of the value chain and their logic will always be profit making instead of nation building. The logic of profit maximization has seen the rapid increase of bogus fly by night colleges and the so called “low fee” private schools that are often of the poorest quality.
We are calling for increased investment in public education and for corporates in particular to equally focus on lower quintile schools when they make resource based contributions. The trend in recent decades has been grossly disturbing; the private sector provides privileged schools preferential treatment when it offers any form of support instead of focusing on the schools that need it the most.
We wish the class of 2018 the best of luck. As teachers and members of SADTU in particular we recommit ourselves to the principles of the quality learning and teaching campaign. We will be in class, on time, prepared and teaching.
Statement issued by SADTU, 4 January 2017