File picture

Cape Town - The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Friday expressed concern about the high matric dropout rate and the poor examination results from rural areas.

The union noted the improved national pass rate of 72.5 percent for the 2017 National Senior Certificate, but said the real pass rate was dramatically lower if one compared the number of learners who sat their final exams to those who enrolled for their first year of school twelve years ago.

While 1 185 198 learners were enrolled for Grade 1 in 2006, the number of those who sat for the matric exams last year was 651 707, meaning that 533 491 had dropped out along the way, the Nehawu secretariat said in a statement.

"This lowers the pass rate to a mere 41 percent," it said. "A thorough investigation is necessary to ascertain the reasons for this low number."

Nehawu said the weaker results from rural areas belied the higher national pass rate, and pointed to an unfair distribution of resources.

"While we note the slight improvement by both KwaZulu-Natal (69.5 percent for 2016 and 73.6 percent for 2017) and Eastern Cape (63.3 percent for 2016 and 65.8 percent for 2017) we also note that Limpopo has regressed by 0.8 percent from 68.2 percent to 67.4 percent for 2017.," it said.

"Rural provinces continue to perform very horribly and this downward trend is continuing unabated. This further highlights the glaring disparities both in resources and infrastructure between rural and urban schools."

Children from rural schools continued to have classes in mud rooms, had to travel long distances on foot and did not have adequate numbers of teachers, it said.

The union said it was imperative that the government addressed the problems in these provinces to allow learners to obtain a proper education that would lift them out of poverty.

African News Agency/ANA