South Africa’s Matric Passes Need A Deeper Look

When we were a lot younger than we are now, failure at school was one of those suicidal options that you read about in science fiction. If you went home with a mark that was unsatisfactory you were sure to have a very unpleasant conversation.

Matric results will be out tomorrow and a lot of stats are coming out now. The success rate is a lot higher while the standards are in reality lower. Some subjects have a pass mark set as low as 30%. Where we come from a pass was 50% and above.

So while people will celebrate an increase in the percentage passes, one has to sit back and realise that some of those would have been failures of systems of yesteryear were used.

In essence the quality of the passes has to be looked at very carefully. We have to look beyond how many people are passing to who is passing. What are those kids studying and how useful are those subjects? Another question to be asked is where those kids are studying. How many kids from former Class-C schools are now achieving a pass mark?

When Zimbabwe gained independence, education was an immediate priority and subjects such as mathematics were mandatory up to O Level. While the numbers have not been impressive for a while at O Level, tweaking what is defined as  a pass does not fix the problem. It comes down to improving the standard of education.