The Department of Basic Education has dismissed claims that matriculants can obtain their National Senior Certificate (NSC) with 30% pass rate for all subjects.
According to Maimane, the 30% sets low expectations across the board and hurts matric pupils.
He called on Basic Education Angie Motshekga to increase the pass mark to 50% instead, while also calling for the minister’s resignation.
“We have a crisis in our education system. The minister hides the grim reality of her failure by using the 30% pass mark,” Maimane tweeted.
But Mhlanga has argued against this narrative, saying there’s no single number used to determine a pass mark.
He said there are categories in which various levels of achievement are required, with pupils expected to get more than 30% for at least three subjects to finish Grade 12.
“Outrage is often expressed over the fact that the lowest possible pass mark per subject is 30%, however, what is not fully understood is that no candidate can obtain a National Senior Certificate if he/she passes all seven subjects at 30%. The learners must pass at least three subjects at 40%,” it said.
Mhlanga said increasing the threshold to 50% will not happen because South Africa’s education system aims to encourage “different levels of achievement”.
“The 2014 ministerial committee, which recommended several changes to the National Senior Certificate, many of which have been followed through, did not recommend changing the lowest threshold.
“It is acceptable assessment practice to ensure that provision is made for different levels of achievement. All education systems have different levels of passes, not just one pass mark.”
He described Maimane’s petition as “misleading” during an interview on Power987.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to announce the matric exam results on 20 January 2022, while provinces will release their results the next day on 21 January.
The Umalusi standardisation meeting took place last week Thursday, 6 January.
Umalusi, which is an education quality assurance council, needs to declare that the exams and the marking processes are up to standard in order for the NSC exam results to be released.
The exam marking was captured on 27 December last year, after more than 40,000 markers were appointed across all provinces.
According to DBE director-general, Mathanzima Mweli, more than 730,000 full-time pupils registered to write the 2021 NSC exams, which is the largest number of candidates recorded in years.
“A total of 123,487 more full-time candidates and 46,942 more part-time candidates registered to write the examination.
“Of the 733,746 candidates that registered for the examination, 700,604 candidates wrote the examination, which reflects the lowest percentage of ‘no shows’ (4.5%), over the last few years,” Mweli said in a statement.