Story by Dr Imran Keeka MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Education
The Democratic Alliance (DA) congratulates KwaZulu-Natal’s learners who have passed their matric examinations and acknowledges the many hours of hard work by both learners and educators which has led to this point.
While this year’s results see a boost in KZN’s overall pass rate, the DA’s biggest concern remains the ‘real pass rate’ – a figure calculated by taking the province’s 2017 Grade 10 enrolment numbers, assessing the number of KZN learners who actually wrote matric in 2019 and then, finally, looking at the number who have passed.The DA can today reveal that the province’s 2019 real pass rate is 39.5%.
The figure, while up from last year’s 36.3%, remains far from satisfactory. The fact is that KZN has the potential to do a lot better and this should be a real and urgent concern for the province’s Education MEC, Kwazi Mshengu and his Department.
Sadly, the real pass mark is also indicative of the massive number of young people in KZN who have dropped out of the education system during the last three years and who have been denied the chance to write matric, let alone pass it. While there may be opportunities for some, regrettably many will be left standing in unemployment lines seeking jobs for which schooling should have provided basic skills.
The real pass mark is a reflection of the endemic and escalating challenges which continue to face education in our province and which KZN’s DoE continue to downplay at their peril, while risking the futures of so many. These challenges include;Crumbling infrastructure which has been worsened by the addition of 81 storm damaged schools;
Teacher unions that continue to bring teaching and learning to a frequent halt;High levels of criminality and vandalism which threaten the entire learning environment;
A failure by the DoE to get to grips with the fact that the origin of many learning problems begin at Foundation Phase level and;Poor consequence or proper conflict management, which has had a severe effect on the entire learning environment.
These fundamental obstacles need to be overcome. Corruption and alleged looting needs to be brought to a halt, educators need to be upskilled and finances need to be better managed before there can be a marked improvement in the real pass mark.
This will not take place though until such time as MEC Mshengu and his Department set aside political patronage and start putting the interests of KZN’s learners first. This is the real test that the province’s ANC-led Education Department is faced with.
Of further concern to the DA is Umalusi’s public statement that all went well during the matric 2019 exams.
Seemingly, it has forgotten the major exam cheating scandal at Nyamane High School in Umkhanyakude, which saw six teachers allegedly instruct learners to write an adult education paper on behalf of candidates who did not arrive for the exam. To add to this, a security guard at the school was asked to act as an invigilator for the paper.
This is simply astonishing and a scourge that continues to threaten the very core of NSC exams. Every time such an incident takes place, it brings into question the validity of these critical exams.
In order to begin to deal with the multitude of issues facing our province, KZN needs a swift assessment tool to understand what the impact of all of this is on the province’s true matric pass rate as an example.
The DA in KZN has presented MEC Mshengu and his team with numerous proposals in this regard, one of which is to set up a Schools Evaluation Authority and establish an Ombudsperson, as we have done in the DA-led Western Cape, in order to foster a proper and accountable system. We will continue to lobby for this to be introduced in KZN.
The DA’s priority is to always ensure that learners get the best quality matric pass in the expected time so that they can be productive citizens that will contribute to the formation of a capable state.
To those learners who did not do well and who have failed, this is not the end of the road and we urge you to see this as a learning experience and an opportunity to try again and to improve.
The DA will continue to fight for a quality education for every child. We are not fooled by the ANC’s continued punting of an inflated pass mark. A real matric pass rate of 39.5% is far from good enough.
Dr Imran Keeka MPL
DA KZN Spokesperson on Education 083 703 9135