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Sunday, 28 December 2008

Time to admit to South Africa's educational failure

South Africa's matriculation (grade 12 or university entrance exams in other countries) are about to be released. This will be the first group of matriculants who wrote matric using the new Outcomes Based Education (OBE) curriculum.

(OBE is a disastrous exercise in political correctness, implemented in great haste by the ANC regime. Like almost all left-wing ideas, it is a complete shambles, although that is not the topic of this column.)

According to Umalusi, the body in charge of supervising matric results, the pass rate is very similar to last year's pass rate, in exams written under the old curriculum.

I personally find the above outcome (pardon the pun) a bit difficult to believe. The entire curriculum has changed. Subjects like mathematics have changed completely. Call me cynical, but something is fishy, should the results be that similar. How is it possible that the pass rate is almost exactly the same, given the comprehensive changes that have occurred? Some Stalinist manipulation has obviously occurred, if you ask me.

Furthermore, South Africa's school leavers fare dismally when compared to their international peers. Although approximately 70% of matriculants "pass" annually (many of them with marks like Julius Malema's - an H symbol in mathematics), they compare very poorly to their international equivalents. South African school leavers and school pupils routinely come last in international tests, especially in mathematics. This points to the fact that, although South African pupils pass matric, they cannot actually read and write properly. They are especially poor at numeracy - adding 10 and 12 together may present a challenge to many school leavers.

Approximately 500,000 "learners" (an abhorrent, left-wing word for students or pupils) "pass" matric every year. It is a fact only that a small proportion of these, probably less than 10%, is of an international standard. They do especially poorly in mathematics. Of the 400,000 black matriculants who pass annually, fewer than 1 in 100 pass mathematics on the higher grade. This is usually ascribed to "apartheid" or "poverty", even though no black pupil currently in school has ever experienced apartheid education, and the fact that there are millions of rich blacks in South Africa. Nobody would ever dare to whisper the dreaded "g-word" - genetics - as a possible explanation.

Those that do not pass mathematics often tend to take subjects like Biblical Studies and History, which are perceived as "easy", but which hardly prepare them for real careers.

I often wonder whether the problem is not that there are too many candidates for matric in South African schools. Candidates who, for whatever reason, are ill-prepared and unsuitable for university entrance, and should not be there in the first place.

Would it not be better to produce 100,000 well-educated, literate and numerate matrics every year, than 480,000 ill-prepared, illiterate and functionally innumerate matrics that graduate with useless certificates?

Of course the above is a pipe dream; it would mean that the ANC regime admits to yet another failure, to be added to its long list of utter incompetence. However, South Africa will keep falling further and further behind due to the complete and abject failure of the ANC's education system.

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