Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has rubbished widespread reports purporting that he is campaigning for the scrapping of the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) and South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI) exams in favour of the National Senior Certificate administered by the national Department of Basic Education.
On Thursday morning, IOL reported that the 98.42% matric pass rate for the IEB private schools has come as no surprise to academics and education experts.
Speaking to broadcaster eNCA, Lesufi, who is former Gauteng MEC for Education, and speaking in his capacity as an activist, said financial resources cannot continue to perpetuate inequality in the education sector.
“I have never called for the scrapping of any examination. What I am calling for is that we are one country called South Africa, let all our children write one examination. You can’t have other children writing a better Maths, while other children are writing an inferior Maths in our own country,” he said.
“If we believe IEB or any other is the best, give it to all the children to write the best examination. It must not be on the basis of those that have resources can write this examination and those that do not have resources will not write this examination.”
He said after writing the different examinations, young people have to compete at institutions of higher education and will still have to write the same examinations for their tertiary courses.
“Why not prepare them early? Besides that particular point, reality is that all our teachers are trained from the same pot. There is no teacher that is trained to teach IEB, or a teacher trained to teach other children. All teachers are trained from the same pot,” said Lesufi.
“In short, I am calling for one examination for all our children. If a certain examination is the best, actually then that best education must be given to all our children, especially the poor. You need quality education for the poor children to be uplifted.
“What we are fighting for is quality for all. No one must be discriminated on the basis of their financial wellbeing and on the basis of where they stay, or a curriculum that we really believe is equal to everyone. Let all our children write the same examination. If IEB is the best, let all of us write it,” he said.
Lesufi argued that the differences between the IEB and the NSC are “cosmetic”, adding that the “pass mark is the same, the curriculum is the same, the assessment body is the same, they go to Umalusi”.
“If you say a certain examination like IEB is quality, then why is that quality not made available for everyone? Why should our children write different examinations but go to the same lecture room in the next two days? Lesufi argued.
On the other hand, The Mercury newspaper reported that the proposal to amalgamated the matric examinations systems to form a single system in order to promote equality and eradicate a class-based schooling system, has been dismissed by education analysts.
Professor Labby Ramrathan, from the School of Education Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said if things were relatively equal in the country, then there would be some merit to what Lesufi is saying.
“The difference between the public schooling system and the independent schooling system is so vast and therefore warrants a differentiated system to match learning experiences.”
Education expert, Professor Mary Metcalfe said the country’s education and training system has a rigorous quality assurance process which ensures that qualifications that are awarded by different examining bodies are equivalent in standard.
“This means that the ‘marks’ received, for example, in the IEB NSC and in the DBE NSC are comparable once they have been quality assured by Umalusi,” Metcalfe told The Mercury.
Metcalfe added that a change in the matric exams was neither necessary nor desirable.