17 July 2012

Department of Basic Education: PASS ONE PASS ALL

Red, Orange and Black poster with words: Democratic Education. Within open door and poster reading "Education Charter", "Free and compulsary Education" and "The doors of learning and culture shall be opened"Records released to SAHA by the National Department of Basic Education indicate the shockingly low standard of South African Matric (Grade 12) pass requirements.

The material released by the departments' National Assessment and Public Examination directorate, through the Promotion of Access to Information Act, indicate that for a full time learner to pass matric, they would only need to satisfy the following requirements;

  • Register a minimum of 6 subjects;
  • Meet 40% or above for home language; 
  • Meet 40% or above for two other subjects from specific subject groups;
  • Meet 30% or above for three other subjects, and;
  • A learner is allowed to fail one subject of the 6 subjects (i.e. obtain a score of less than 30%)

When compared to other developing countries like China and India these requirements are set below standard.

Furthermore, the released records indicate that over the period from 2008 to 2011 the number of Grade 12 learners nationally has been on a steady increase, with an average of 65.4% for this period.

However, upon closer inspection, it is evident that lesser resourced provinces Limpopo and Eastern Cape in particular have for that period remained unchanged, whilst resourced provinces like Gauteng and the Western Cape have improved. The marked improvement by some of the provinces explains the slight improvement in national figures.

Additional records also indicate that the department has over that period adjusted learner results due to external factors like; industrial action, the 2010 world cup events and service delivery protests amongst others. This means that many people may be passing matric that would not ordinarily have even met the very low requirements. Thus the system is producing poor quality graduates.

This is not only a disservice to the state, it also counts against the graduates, as they are poorly skilled and ill equipped to enter an already challenging job environment.


For more information contact the Freedom of Information Programme at SAHA.