Matric maths, science meltdown

Michelle Jones

Education Writer

JUST one in five matrics achieves a pass of more than 50 percent in their maths and science exams.

And more than half of these matric pupils have failed in the last five years.

These figures are revealed in the latest South Africa Survey, published by the South African Institute of Race Relations last week.

The class of 2012 achieved a national pass rate of 73.9 percent, up from 70.2 percent in 2011.

According to the Department of Basic Education’s National Diagnostic Report on Learner Performance, 22.6 percent of 2012 matrics had achieved a pass above 50 percent in maths and 24.2 percent in science.

Researchers at the institute found that since the introduction of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) in 2008, the proportion of pupils achieving a pass in mathematics of between 70 percent and 100 percent fell from 8.3 percent in 2008 to 5.9 percent in 2011.

The Cape Times found this had increased last year, with 7 percent of 2012 matric pupils achieving a maths pass of between 70 and 100 percent.

“The data also revealed that more than half of all pupils who have written mathematics since the introduction of the NSC have failed, receiving a mark below 30 percent,” said an institute press statement.

The institute’s analysis was based on data supplied by the Department of Basic Education. It did not include results from the 2012 matric exams as these were not available when the survey was compiled.

Researchers found that pupils had achieved more encouraging results in science.

“However, as is the case with mathematics, more than half of all pupils who have written physical science since the introduction of the NSC have failed,” they said.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga decided last year to establish a ministerial committee to probe the standard of the NSC after widespread criticism of its quality.

Under this system, a Grade 12 pupil needs to obtain 30 percent in three subjects and 40 percent in another three, including their home language.

Under the old system, a minimum pass mark of 40 percent on higher grade and 33.3 percent on standard grade was required to pass matric.

These were done away with and all pupils now complete the subjects on the same level.

Jonathan Snyman, a researcher at the institute, said the pass mark should be increased to 50 percent to bring it in line with what universities expected.

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