'The pass rate alone is not a good indicator of the quality of education in SA'

On paper, the matric results seem to be heading in an upward trajectory, as 75.1 % of matrics passed.

Is this claim a deceptive number to chuck out or is it accurate? Critics have overstated how cautious we must be in understanding how well matriculants have done.

To shed light on this matter, Equal Education Head of Policy and Training Leanne Jansen-Thomas joined Eusebius Mckaiser to talk about the education minister’s announcement and why the pass rate number could be seen as deceptive.

Jansen-Thomas says that Equal Education calculates a through-put pass rate, which is the number of matrics who passed divided by the grade 10 or grade 2 cohort. She adds that they look at the number of learners who actually reached matric and not just the number of learners who wrote the exam.

We cannot look at that pass rate in isolation, you need to look at other indicators of education says Jansen-Thomas.

Anyone who says that their matric pass rates alone is a barometer of the health of our education system is being dishonest.

Leanne Jansen-Thomas, Equal Education head of policy and training

The Deputy Director General of Basic Education for planning, information and assessments, Paddy Padayachee also joined the conversation, as he added his thoughts on Equal Education’s assessment methods around the pass rate.

Padayachee says that the conceptualisation of the national pass rate wasn’t recent. He adds that since 1994, the pass rate has become the dominant obsession.

What we found was that people would take the number at the beginning of grade one, and divide it says Padayachee. He adds that now there’s maturity when it comes to discussing the issue.

Padayachee says that Equal Education has taken the Grade two results because in Grade one, you have an inflation of learners.

There’s no Grade R in certain communities so they send their children to Grade one.

Paddy Padayachee, The deputy director general of Basic Education for planning, information and assessments

The denominators that Equal Education comes to - would be the same as ours, says Padayachee. He adds that they also use a dropout rate to look at the percentage of pupils who passed.

Compared to other international countries, we are not far off says Padayachee. He adds that South Africa is below the mark compared to other countries.

Padayachee says that in the past, they would announce the results and those who failed, would either take a supplementary, repeat or they may not take up any opportunities. We need to look at how we move past that 60% says Padayachee.

Listen to the link below to hear more on the nature of the pass rate results...


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