KZN’s top matriculants. Picture: Mothswari Mofokeng /African News Agency
KZN’s top matriculants. Picture: Mothswari Mofokeng /African News Agency

Teacher unions please with matric results

By Mphathi Nxumalo Time of article published Feb 23, 2021

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Durban - Despite the KwaZulu-Natal matric pass rate dropping to 77.6 percent compared to 81.3 percent in 2019, teacher unions expressed happiness with the results for the matric class of 2020. They argued that considering the huge challenges brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic, teachers and pupils did well.

South African Democratic Teachers’ Union provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said: “We are extremely excited and it is an indication that teachers with (pupils) worked hard.”

She said since KwaZulu-Natal was in fourth place and other provinces had bigger declines than the KZN’s 3 percent, it showed the amount of effort that was put in by teachers. Caluza said if things were normal, they could have been different.

She said inequalities were a problem in KZN and investment in programmes to develop teachers were needed. “Pupils moved on and left school, while teachers stayed behind to teach future generations making investing in teachers important.”

Cynthia Barnes, General Secretary of the National Teachers Union, said it was a good pass considering the pandemic brought chaos to the academic calendar. “Teachers have worked hard. I have never seen teachers working so hard,” she said.

Barnes said the problem was that the department should not focus solely on urban areas, but also pay attention to rural areas as it had a large number of pupils.

Barnes said the class of 2021 would do well if the department listened to some of the issues raised by unions like capicitating teachers and pupils. This would help the department reach a 90 percent pass rate, which she believed was achievable.

Educators Union of South Africa president Scelo Bhengu, said if their cries for the removal of Angie Motshekga were not listened to, then there would not have been a drop in the pass rate. “If there was no corruption on the R500 billion allegedly plundered through corruption, then some of that money could have been used to develop online learning in the country. Developing online learning meant that even if a third or fourth wave hit the country then learning could have continued.”

Bhengu cited the example of how the Independent Examinations Board matriculants performed well as they had access to good resources. The IEB recorded a minor decline of 98.07% in its matric pass rate.

Education expert Professor Labby Ramrathan said it was expected that there would be a drop. He expected it to be between five and ten percent.

He however found it strange that Motshekga would focus on the quality of the pass by pointing to Bachelors passes.

“If one looked deeper into the figures one might have to look at how many pupils achieved slightly above the Bachelor’s degree pass threshold. I need to get access to the statistics that detailed this.”

For KZN, he said, it was not bad dropping by 3 percent, considering that they had problems with good support systems.

“With the Ugu District being the top performing in the province, it showed that there was still hope.”

Ramrathan said it was concerning that there were no KZN districts in the top 10 and suggested that the provincial Department of Education identify the top performing districts and “boost” them to compete with other top performing districts around the country. He emphasised that this could be done and still ensure that other districts also received quality resources and education.

The Daily News

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