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Cape Town - An “unacceptably high” failure rate in Grade 9 has prompted the Western Cape Education Department to introduce a new plan in a bid to improve performance.
The failure rate was 29 percent in 2011 and 25.9 percent last year.
Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant, said the results of provincial Grade 9 language and maths tests were also cause for concern. Only 13.9 percent of pupils tested passed the maths tests last year, while 48.2 percent passed the language test.
“Poor quality passes in Grade 9 can affect the learner’s performance in the further education and training phase (Grades 10 to 12) and future opportunities,” she said.
Casey said the reasons for the poor performance in the grade included large class sizes in Grades 8 and 9, while in some schools teachers were not qualified to teach the subjects they were being asked to teach.
The Grade 9 turnaround strategy is being implemented and includes:
* Autumn and winter programmes for language, maths and science.
* Each Grade 8 and 9 pupil is to receive a year planner with details of the year’s syllabus and dates for assessments.
* Programmes after school to catch up on backlogs.
* Schools setting quarterly targets for every pupil and subject.
* Small group tutoring by the department’s curriculum planners.
* Language and maths tests to assess the level of Grade 8 pupils.
* Tips for Success booklets for Grade 8 and 9 pupils. The booklets provide advice on selecting the right subjects as the pupils prepare to move into the next school phase.
* Monitoring by the department of the use of textbooks.
Jonavon Rustin, provincial secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union, said the union welcomed any initiative to improve pupils’ performance. “We call on the department to consult trade unions on interventions such as this.”
While large class sizes were contributing to the problem, the department did not say how this was going to be addressed, Rustin said.
It also needed to deal with the backlog in infrastructure and need for libraries.