A teachers' union has questioned the ingenuity of progressing learners to matric if the majority of them are barred from writing the full final exam. Picture: Chris Collingridge/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Johannesburg - A teachers' union has questioned the ingenuity of progressing learners to matric if the majority of them are barred from writing the full final exam.

Out of 128 634 learners who failed Grade 11 in 2017 and were pushed to matric last year, only 33412 sat for all their subjects. Of these, 20122 passed and 2676 obtained passes that allow them to enrol at traditional universities.

A whopping 95222 who progressed to matric did not sit for all their subjects, and they were unaccounted for in the national 78.2% pass rate.

Allen Thompson, deputy president of the National Teachers' Union, said the progression policy demoralised teachers because they spend the entire year on matriculants who are diverted from the exams.

“It's not acceptable that we have more than 120000 learners being progressed and only 33000 write the exams,” Thompson said.

“You're attending classes for the whole year but then told not to write the full exam. What do you call that? It's wasteful expenditure,” he said.

Thompson said teachers would prefer dividing their attention only to matriculants who are guaranteed to write the penultimate school exams.

He also called for the scrapping of the policy that the Department of Basic Education started implementing in 2015.

“The policy has to be revised because it's demoralising teachers. This policy is overloading teachers. This policy is wasting the time of learners.”

“The districts are the ones that come to the school and dictate that some of these learners must not be allowed to write (full exams). It is because the districts are under pressure to perform,” he said.

The SA Democratic Teachers' Union decried what it called the insufficient support provided by authorities to teachers and progressed learners.

“As a union we lament the fact that there is evidently inadequate support provided to progressed learners and teachers,” general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said.

“A quick glance at the results shows that despite the quantitative increase in the number of progressed learners, not enough was done to offer them institutional support, particularly in the Western Cape. The Western Cape has the least number of progressed learners and yet has recorded the lowest pass rate for them,” he said.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga pointed out that the policy entailed condoning over-aged learners who have repeated Grade 11 more than once.

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The Star