Acting MEC for Education Bongi Sithole Moloi speaks to matriculants during an event to mark the 100-day countdown to the exams at uMlazi ComTech. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane/african news agency (ana)
Durban -The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education’s target to improve the matric pass rate from 72% last year to 80% for the class of 2018 was a goal shared by education stakeholders, but in the same breath they are questioning if this is possible.

Teachers’ unions and parents have cited long-term challenges such as the majority of schools still lacking sufficient subject advisers and teachers.

In April, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga intervened in the province’s woes by establishing an investigation into the failure by the province to fill critical senior positions, office-based employees, subject advisers and teaching posts. The findings of this probe have not been finalised.

The department launched its 100-day countdown to the start of the matric exams. The class of 2018, referred to as the Class of Hope, was being relied on to achieve an 80% or even 100% pass rate.

While some teachers’ unions said they were confident that their hard work providing extra classes would pay off, they were worried about challenges beyond their control.

The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) said while they rallied behind efforts to improve the results, they were concerned that the department set targets without addressing important education issues.

Thirona Moodley, of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa, said the results were more likely to remain the same.

Moodley said the winter classes had continued without glitches - but when it came to improving the results, the department should play its part.

“There is still no plan different to last year. Remember, good matric results are not made during the Grade 12 year, but preparations begin as early as Grade 10. This would be the lot who went through without sufficient teachers, without subject advisers - they cannot be expected to suddenly perform miracles in matric.”

Scelo Isaac Bhengu of the Educators Union of South Africa said the 80% mark would not become a reality as long as teachers were still being forced to sacrifice their time without remuneration.

“Teachers are participating in the winter classes but they are demotivated. They are forced to work over the holidays and after hours for no extra pay. Principals are under pressure from the department to produce good results,” said Bhengu.

Vee Gani, the South Durban chairperson of the KZN Parents’ Association, said the 80% bracket was possible, with the commitment of the department schools, parents and pupils.

“We still have under-qualified teachers, teaching gateway subjects. There are more schools without subject advisers to monitor the standard and the quality of lessons. These challenges have a huge impact on the results,”said Gani.

Daily News