CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has attributed the dip in pass rates in Cape Winelands and West Coast schools to severe Covid-19 disruptions.
The Standing Committee on Education expressed concerns on Tuesday about the districts and said they were planning an oversight visit to the Cape Winelands, which saw a 2.15% decrease in pass rate, while the West Coast saw a 1.54% decrease.
WCED deputy director-general Archie Lewis said many schools in these areas were often closed for decontamination.
“The Cape Winelands district was severely hampered and disrupted last year by Covid-19. We saw a mixed bag of results there, because our top three candidates also came from there. Another matter is that the district is steadily changing in terms of language, and this may also have an effect on results. For many teachers Afrikaans is their home language, and to teach in English could be contributing in some of the schools,” Lewis said.
He said all schools in the province which achieved less that 60% in the NSC exams were required to develop an intervention plan.
Lewis said 40 schools in the province achieved less than 60%, compared to 50 schools in 2020.
“There is a legal obligation that we have to report on the under-performing schools. The head of education issues a letter to the schools indicating their unfavourable pass rate. The school management team is called in to explain their results, once they have analysed the results. (An) agreement is reached between the district and the school on monitoring of the intervention plan. The MEC (Debbie Schäfer) will also report to the national minister about the intervention plan that we will develop as the province,” said Lewis.
Standing Committee chairperson in the legislature Lorraine Botha called for schools that performed at lower than 60% in both 2020 and 2021 to be prioritised, and the reasons for the results probed.
ANC provincial spokesperson on education Khalid Sayed called for the WCED and Schäfer to engage with the national department about the possibility of changing quintile rankings for some schools.
“The DBE must be called to account for this matter. We would also like to know the number of schools that have applied to change their quintile ranking. While we welcome the improvement in subject performances, it is concerning that Mathematical Literacy dropped from 82.9% in 2020 to 79% this year. About 42 272 pupils wrote the subject, 8 891 failed and 3 381 passed.”
Another WCED official explained that this could be due to structural changes in the exam paper.
“The higher order questions were included in both paper one and two. Previously the lower order questions were in paper one and the higher order questions in paper two. This could have challenged the pupils, but this might not be the only reason. This is also a subject that is language driven, with a lot of reading.”