Johannesburg - The Department of Basic Education has come under fire from political parties, despite an increase in the pass rate.
Some of the parties said the results were not a true state of education on the ground.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga had announced that the pass rate was 76.4% compared to last year.
This comes as MPs in the portfolio committee on basic education conducted an oversight visit to the Free State on Friday. The Free State topped all provinces with the highest pass rate.
The portfolio committee said it welcomed the results for this year, and that matriculants had worked hard.
The IFP said it welcomed the results, with the party hoping the minister will address some of the challenges facing the department.
IFP spokesperson on basic education Siphosethu Ngcobo said the learners had done well, despite the challenges presented by Covid-19.
“The IFP would like to congratulate the Matric Class of 2021 on this achievement, despite the unforeseen hardships brought about by the devastating Covid-19 pandemic,” said Ngcobo.
DA spokesperson on education Baxolile Nodada said this was the first matric cohort that experienced their full Grade 11 and 12 years under the national lockdown conditions, which included school closures, rotational timetables, and constant changes to their schooling environments.
“Despite the matric pass rate announced by Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, it is an inflated 76.4% that does not reflect reality. The department does not account for the number of learners who dropped out between Grade 10 to matric, and the real pass rate might be much lower,” Nodada said.
He said the real pass rate was 51.4%, because of the dropout rate.
“The results do not take into consideration the high dropout rate. This year, the dropout rate of learners between Grade 10 to Grade 12 was 32.7% (or 341 403 learners),” said Nodada.
He said the total number of learners who wrote matric exams was 897 163, but the enrolment for Grade 10 in 2019 was over one million learners.
There were thousands of learners who dropped out before matric.
While the Freedom Front Plus accepted the marginal improvement in the results of the Matric Class 2021 – it raised concern about the number of learners who achieved bachelor’s admissions.
FF+ education spokesperson Dr Wynand Boshoff said there has been a slight improvement from 76.4% to 76.6%, which demonstrated the numerous teachers, parents and learners’ determination not to accept defeat.
While independent examination boards were able to maintain or even improve their level of performance during the lockdown, a large part of the public educational sector, unfortunately, still seems to be stuck in quicksand.
“Out of the entire class of 2021, 36.4% achieved a bachelor’s pass; 25.3% achieved a diploma pass; and 14.8% achieved a higher certificate pass.
“It is important that every successful candidate considers the level on which he or she passed matric as a solid starting block from where even more can be achieved,” Boshoff said.
He added that before addressing the gaps in the provision of infrastructure, sanitation and a general culture of learning, it was important to congratulate the learners who gave their best, saying successfully completing Grades 11 and 12 in severely disrupted schools required extraordinary effort just to achieve what would have seemed fairly straightforward in any other year.
Boshoff said in the current economic climate, an effective educational system would have been a beacon of hope, but the reality, however, was that pass requirements “are so low that many successful matriculants cannot continue their studies nor are they adequately prepared to directly enter the economy.
“So, the pass rate of 76.6% is misleading, because the successful candidates who did not achieve a bachelor’s or diploma pass, have very limited economic prospects.
“According to the department, the National Senior Certificate (colloquially referred to as matric) is a qualification that prepares learners for further study and not the workplace.
“In reality, however, it is the highest qualification that an overwhelming majority of matriculants will achieve. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is supposed to bridge the gap by awarding bursaries to prospective students.
“But unfortunately, the scheme is entangled in a myriad of problems and the government simply cannot afford it any longer,” Boshoff said.