As the debate around ending the 30% pass mark threshold continues, the Democratic Alliance’s shadow minister of education, Baxolile Nodada, said the department of education was “deflecting in semantics”, instead of addressing
the real education crisis.
Following One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane’s call to the basic education department to end the 30% pass mark in order to equip school-leaving pupils for the demands of the country’s development, department of basic
education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said there was confusion around distinguishing between a pass mark and a pass rate.
But Nodada said the threshold was unacceptable, and the department did not want to admit the bigger issue was that the curriculum was not responsive to the economy.
“And how institutions of higher learning measure you is that at least you need know 50% of the work to pass that module or even to get into it to begin with. So it’s a crisis on its own.”
University of Witwatersrand School of Education’s prof Brahm Fleisch said pass marks and pass rates were the tip of the iceberg and the real crisis was primary education.
“The problem is if you change the pass mark, it doesn’t mean pupils will learn any more or less. The pass mark is just a benchmark of their performance. What we need to do is improve the quality of teaching and learning.”
Fleisch said there were no quick fixes for the stubborn problem of low pass rates, dysfunctional schools and the small number of higher grade mathematics and science graduates.
Maimane said the department should not have subjects that pupils could pass with 30%, as it allowed the standard of education to be lowered progressively.
“They need to scrap that so we can improve the standard of education for high and low paying fees schools.
“Otherwise people with money will continue buying the best education, while people without money are left behind.”
More than 9 400 people have signed Maimane’s petition, started four days ago, to end the 30% matric pass mark.