Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
4 Jan 2019
6:10 am

Dipping matric throughput rate a concern – Equal Education

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

The lobby group said a look at the throughput rate rate suggested that the matric pass rate had actually been declining.

Picture: Gallo Images

The 12-year journey for South Africa’s matric class of 2019 will have been a gruelling battle for survival as most of their grade-one classmates will not be joining them, experts have pointed out with concern.

In their statement regarding the latest matric results, lobby group Equal Education (EE) was unsurprisingly critical of the annual “overemphasis” on the event, drawing attention rather to what those learners had to go through to even get there.

Their research showed that the throughput rate of learners between grade 10 and matric between the matrics of 2015 to the matrics of 2017 dropped from 41% to 37%. This meant that each year the rate at which Grade ten pupils made it to matric was not only astoundingly low, but was dropping annually.

“Due to consistently high learner dropout rates, EE considers the throughput rate alongside the traditional matric pass rate. We define the throughput rate as the percentage of learners who were in Grade 2 together, and who 10 years later went on to pass matric together. One could also consider a similar calculation for learners who were in Grade 10 together, and who go on to pass matric two years later,” it explains.

In contrast to the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) claim that the matric pass rate has consistently been above 70% over the past few years and that it is increasing, EE said a look at the throughput rate suggested that the pass rate had actually been declining.

An Africa Check study last year found that that despite the 2017 matric pass being 75.1%, of the 1 155 629 pupils who started Grade 1 in 2006, only 34.7% obtained a matric pass in 2017.

Prof Sarah Gravett, of the Faculty of Education at the University of Johannesburg  also lamented the overemphasis of the matric results as an indicator of a sound education system.

“I know that matric results are important for the individual matric because depending on the result often it determines whether you qualify for certain jobs or whether you get into university and other tertiary institutions. Indeed, it is a gateway to your future but we are making way too much of it every year. It is not the only way in which one should look at the education system – it is one indicator for something that is far more complex.”

Gravett echoed EE’s sentiment on the dropout rate adding that even as efforts to improve and streamline the education system may be headed in the right direction, factors such as poverty had to be considered as contributing factors to the dropout rate.

“Since 1994 when access to education became a reality for all South Africans we still have not been able to retain learners in the system and there are varying reasons for this. I don’t think we should underestimate poverty as a major factor and that sometimes the school dropouts are due to the difficult socio-economic circumstances.

“We know that some may drop out in order to find work, which I think is the last thing that people should allow because even those who have matric are struggling to get work it will be very difficult to get a job without it.”

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