Moment of truth for two million matrics

Experts fear worst for thousands allowed to ‘progress’, split exams

After weeks of suspense and anxiety, more than two million matric pupils across the country will know their fate when the results for government schools are published tomorrow. The results will be announced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

The Eastern Cape has been at the bottom of the class for the past three years – and education stakeholders in the province said the latest results would be no different.

The 94 000 Eastern Cape candidates include 24 000 hopefuls who are repeating the exam and so-called “progressed learners”, who have been given the option of splitting their subjects and writing over two years.

Sadtu provincial administrator Sindisile Zamisa said yesterday the policy of “progression and modulating” [splitting the subjects] was a short cut which was doomed to fail.

“We are waiting patiently to see how the department will ensure that pupils who did not pass in previous phases, but were allowed to progress, will fare,” Zamisa said.

Qualifying Grade 12 pupils were offered, for the first time last year, the option of modulating their subjects.

Basic Education spokesman Elijah Mhlanga said the option was given to a few pupils who had been “progressed” from other grades and felt that they would not cope with doing all the exams in one year.

“Those who took the option are very few and will not affect the [pass] percentage,” Mhlanga said.

Zamisa said the union had never supported the idea of allowing pupils to split their subjects because they viewed it as a mitigation of a problem created by the department.

“We are worried about the quality of pupils that are allowed to sit for matric exams,” he said.

“If they have been allowed to progress in all the previous phases, where will they get the capacity to pass Grade 12?”

The province obtained a dismal 56% matric pass rate for 2015, but the June results last year showed a further decline to 44.9%.

There was a slight improvement in September to 48.3%.

Premier Phumulo Masualle had vowed early in the year to deal with the provincial education crisis.

His spokeswoman, Mandisa Titi, said yesterday he would only speak on the matter once the results were released.

“As is the norm, as soon as the matric results are officially announced, the premier will host a special media engagement session,” she said.

“This is where the media will be accorded an opportunity to raise relevant queries.”

The DA’s Edmund van Vuuren, who sits on the provincial education portfolio committee, said the number of students who had been “progressed” was worrying.

“There is quite a large number of pupils who have been progressed to Grade 12, and only 12% of progressed learners passed last year,” he said.

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