Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Zille calls for ‘full-scale audit’ of matric results and marking

No Fear No Favour No rigging passes.....


Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille. Picture: SOWETAN

BASIC Education Minister Angie Motshekga needed to commission a "full-scale independent audit" of the 2013 matric results, and of the marking process, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille said on Tuesday.
Ms Motshekga on Monday night announced a sharp rise in the 2013 matric pass rate, to 78.2%, from 2012’s 73.9% and a massive improvement on the pass rate of 60.6% achieved when she took over as minister in 2009. She touted it as an example of the Zuma administration’s achievements since "we took over" in 2009.
Adding fuel to her fire, the African National Congress (ANC) said on Monday that the results reflected the ruling party’s "transformative and decisive interventions in education" stemming from the commitment in 1994 to make education the ruling party’s "apex priority".
But Ms Zille said the quality of marking could not be guaranteed, nor was it "adequately or comparatively standardised" across South Africa because exam scripts were not marked by a central authority, and markers were not tested for competency, subject knowledge or ability to interpret answers phrased differently from the exam memorandum, except in the Western Cape.
South Africa goes to the polls later in the year to elect a new government, and the ruling ANC and the DA — the largest opposition party — are squaring off, with the ANC battling several crises that could cost it votes, and the DA eager to win rule in a second province. The DA rules the Western Cape.
Department of Basic Education spokesman Terence Khala did not immediately respond to phone calls or e-mails.

Matric pass rate shoots past 75%
Ms Zille pointed to concern raised last year by Sizwe Mabizela, chairman of quality assurance council Umalusi, over the appointment of markers in some provinces, and that their appointment was subject to political and union pressure.
"Umalusi has repeatedly recommended that markers be tested for competency around the country. In its technical report on the 2012 (National Senior Certificate) examinations, it identified the lack of competence of markers as the first challenge to the reliability and quality of marking," she said. "It also explicitly recommended that competency tests should be used to appoint markers.
"However, the government failed to take heed of this recommendation, mainly as a result of obstinate resistance from the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu)."
During Umalusi’s announcement that the results had been approved for release, Prof Mabizela warned that despite the setting and moderation of question papers having "stabilised", the quality of marking still posed a significant challenge in many subjects.
Those marking exams should take competency tests, as markers with limited knowledge tend to disadvantage pupils who produced innovative and originally responses to questions, he said.
Responding to the issue of competency testing, Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke dismissed the comments as "off the mark". Making political statements was beyond the Umalusi’s mandate, he said.
Sadtu believed that the solution of competent markers should begin at the teaching level, with the competency of teachers in the classroom. Additional training should provided to teachers, beginning in grade 10, he said. Those looking for quality marking had the solution the wrong way around, as if you want a quality cake "you influence the ingredients (not a) baked cake".
"The point is, these teachers apply (to become markers)," he said.
Focus on maths and science
Meanwhile, Parliament’s basic education portfolio committee said on Tuesday that further quality improvements in maths and science passes in matric would be crucial for South Africa’s economic growth, global competitiveness and prosperity.
The quality of maths and science matric results has often been questioned, with many observers largely blaming the quality of teaching. The Human Sciences Research Council has said South Africa’s growth is stifled by a severe skills shortage, particularly in science, technology, engineering, maths and accounting.
The 2013 matric results released on Monday showed that the pass rate for maths had increased from 54% in 2012 to 59.1% in 2013. The pass rate for physical science rose from 61.3% in 2012 to 67.4% in 2013.
Basic education portfolio committee chairwoman Hope Malgas said improvements in the key subjects of maths and science would give pupils access to programmes in the higher education and training sector.
“While we celebrate the 2013 matric results as the best results since the dawn of democracy in 1994, we would like to see further quality improvements in mathematics, science and accounting ... This is critical for the enhancement of economic growth, global competitiveness and prosperity in the country,” she said.
Ms Malgas said the portfolio committee was also pleased with the improvements in terms of “key quality indicators”, adding: “Specifically, we welcome the increase in the number of bachelor’s degree passes from 26.6% in 2012 to the current 30.6%.”
She said the 2013 results showed “great improvement and positive lessons towards an improved schooling system”.
“The Department of Basic Education's target, as contained in the Action Plan 2014, was to reach an overall performance of 75% by 2014. They have exceeded that, and they have to be commended for that good performance,” Ms Malgas said.
But other opposition parties have also questioned the quality of the education system. Pieter Groenewald, parliamentary leader of the Freedom Front Plus, said on Tuesday that “serious attention will have to be given to the pass requirements of subjects needed to pass matric”.
“It is unacceptable that matric can be passed if a learner obtains 30% in three subjects and at least 40% in three more subjects, of which one has to be a home language,” he said.
“The labour market requires more from a matric certificate than that, and those leaving school are under a wrong impression if they think a matric certificate will ensure a job for them. The disruptive role of teacher unions in the education crisis should, in particular, be sorted out.”
Mr Groenewald added: “The real tragedy of the results, however, lie in that 1,261,827 learners had started school in 2002 (last year’s matric class) and that 562,112 in total had written the matric exams ... That means only 44.5% of the learners completed their school career.”

Business Day

Comments by Sonny

If one takes all the official statements around the 2013 Matric Results one get the feeling that there could be an ulterior motive visible here?
President Zuma and the ANC need all the 'YOUTH VOTES' they can get to be "high achievers" at the next polls.

1 comment:

  1. Having spent my whole working life in education, I can just applaud Helen Zille for demanding an INDEPENDENT audit. Year after year universities complain about students who fail and who lack the necessary skills for tertiary studies. Each failure is like money that disappears into a large black hole.

    Having been a marker of Matric scripts myself, I know how important it is to standardize the marking BEFORE the marking starts to ensure a uniform memorandum.