If the rise in matric passes continues at its present rate the Department of Education should achieve a 100 percent matric pass rate by 2018. But is this feasible?
Since Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga took over from Naledi Pandor in 2009, the national results have increased annually.
In 2009 matric results were 60.6 percent, 67.8 for 2010, 70.2 for 2011, 73.9 for 2012 and 78.2 percent last year.
Last year the department put the targeted growth at 75 percent by 2014 but it appears it has already exceeded its own target by 3.2 percent.
However, education expert Dr Anand Ramphal was cautious about any predictions of a 100 percent pass rate. “It’s possible theoretically, but difficult to see in practical terms.
“Certainly, it is possible to improve results marginally in each succeeding year after all, education is a process and therefore improves gradually. The big jump in the pass rate we’ve had in 2013 is welcome but is statistically surprising,” said Ramphal.
Ramphal had some advice on interventionist strategies:
- We need administrators and principals who are knowledgeable on education. People who can work hand-in-hand with competent researchers who are in touch with global educational advances.
- All resources, including financial ones, need to be used productively.
- Teachers must be better trained so that they can impart their lessons in a way that inspires learners.
- Schools need to be safe places with no fear of being attacked.
- Everything should be done to foster mutual respect between teachers and learners.
“Once these basics are in place, we can identify and improve other aspects of our education in more specific ways,” said Ramphal.
Meanwhile, this week Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande announced there were close to 400 000 places for 2013 matrics at tertiary education institutions.
He said there were 396 449 places available to them at the 25 universities, 50 Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, and 21 Sector Education and Training Authorities, Setas. Further study places available included:
- 197 946 new entrant places at universities.
- 23 000 engineering and business studies places at FET colleges.
- 44 000 national certificate vocational programme places at FET colleges.
- 10 000 places for artisans at FET colleges.
- 93 000 apprenticeship or learnership opportunities in collaboration with FET colleges, Setas, and employers.
Two new universities would also start operating this year.
The intake for the University of Mpumalanga was 240 students, while the Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape would take 124.
The universities would increase their intake as new buildings were added.
“The number of students at the two new universities is expected to increase dramatically over the 10-year development plan, with Sol Plaatje University growing to accommodate 7 500 contact students in a variety of programmes on its Kimberley campus,” Nzimande said.
“The University of Mpumalanga will accommodate 15 000 contact students on its Nelspruit campus.”
The department would again operate its central application clearing house (CACH) system this year, which went live this week.
“The CACH service is for learners who qualify for higher education studies but have not been accepted at an institution of their choice,” Nzimande said.
The system focused on pupils who did not apply at institutions before the closing dates last year.
They could register on the system via a call centre on 0860-356-635 or by sending an SMS with their names and ID number to 49200.
“The CACH service will verify the learner’s information and forward it to institutions that still have unfilled places,” Nzimande said.