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Durban - Believing that the quality of a matric certificate could be bettered simply by adjusting the pass mark up or down was a “dangerous misunderstanding” of the realities of learning, an association of school governing bodies has said.
The standard of the National Senior Certificate was influenced by factors which included the level of difficulty of the curriculum and the quality of teaching, the Governing Body Foundation said on Monday.
The foundation’s national chief executive, Tim Gordon, said that, while it supported a thorough reappraisal of the matric certificate, many generations had graduated from high school at a time when the pass mark on the old standard grade was 33 percent.
However, given the importance of the matric certificate, the foundation “strongly” supported a ministerial committee probe of its quality.
To pass Grade 12, a pupil had to achieve 40 percent in three of six subjects, including the pupil’s home language, and 30 percent in the other three subjects.
The public has until the end of this week to submit comments for consideration on a range of issues, including the impact of the decision to split the curriculum into maths and maths literacy.
The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa echoed Gordon’s sentiments, saying that adjusting the minimum subject pass mark did not address the question of whether pupils were being examined at the appropriate level.
The organisation’s president, Basil Manuel, said the debate on the quality of the matric certificate had become “skewed” as it focused on this single aspect.
However, Allen Thompson, deputy head of the National Teachers Union, said that his organisation had long ago taken the stance that 30 percent as a minimum pass in certain subjects was too low.
Last year, the KZN Education MEC of the time, Senzo Mchunu, said the provincial ANC would push for the 30 percent benchmark to be raised.
Mchunu, who is now the premier of KZN, said that 50 percent was an appropriate pass mark.