Cape Town - Opposition groups have called on Education MEC Debbie Schäfer to learn from provinces that achieved better results in last year’s matric exams on how to improve the pass rate in the province.
SA Students Congress provincial chairperson Buyile Matiwane said the Western Cape’s standards had dropped in the past three years.
“It’s time we have some sort of intervention the province. We have an MEC who, despite the poorer results, tells the public we are the best province because we have a better retention rate. We need to consult other provinces and look at the measures they are implementing,” he said.
The ANC-aligned education alliance held a press conference on Thursday where it reacted to the matric results.
The alliance advocates for progressive transformation in the education sector in the Western Cape. It comprises several ANC-affiliated unions, student movements and the Young Communist League.
SA Democratic Teachers Union’s provincial secretary Jonovan Rustin said there were deep systemic issues in education.
“The performance in the last exams is not an indictment on the many pupils who have tried their best to perform in the examinations, nor the teachers who have devoted countless hours preparing these pupils. Rather, it is indicative of the deeper systemic issues that lie unresolved in education in the Western Cape,” he said.
“The continuous decline over the past three years has been characterised by an education department that has not even attempted to address the prevalent transformational issues that have consistently reared their ugly heads in the province, such as racially exclusive practices in schools resulting in a less representative learning environment,” he said.
Rustin said Sadtu had its own training programmes, weekend and after-schools programmes to assist poorer schools.
“We are doing what we can. Education is not a silver bullet. You can’t sit and look at figures and make decisions from there. What we need is a systemic approach to these challenges. We need to stop closing schools, take care of our teachers and ensure there is a conducive learning environment. We should also get parents and communities on board,” he said.
In response, Schäfer said a continuous decline could not just happen overnight.
“On the contrary, since the DA government took over in 2009, the matric results have increased from 75.7% in 2009 to 81.5% in 2018 - an increase of 5.8%. The Bachelor pass rate has increased from 31.9% to 42.3% - a remarkable increase of 10.4%,” she said.
She reiterated that only 12% of South Africa’s population lived in the Western Cape, but 64% of the special needs candidates come from the province.
“We had just over 2000 additional pupils writing matric in 2018, more than any other province. In addition, we did not keep large numbers from writing the full exam, which happened in other provinces, giving them a higher percentage pass.”