/ 28 December 2007

Lower matric pass rate no surprise, says DA

The disappointing South African matric pass rate came as no surprise, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Friday.

MP George Boinamo said it was, however, disappointing that the pass rate had deteriorated from 66,5% in 2006 to 65,2% in 2007.

”During the past year our country’s education system, and more importantly, its learners, faced many challenges, all of which played a key role in the inability to improve on last year’s pass rate.

”This year we had problems like the public-service strike, which left thousands of learners all over the country desolate for days and caused many schools not to be able to complete the prescribed curriculum,” he said.

According to the DA, the two worst performing provinces, Eastern Cape and Limpopo, with pass rates of 57,1% and 58% respectively, had to be targeted by the national department and turnaround strategies devised and implemented.

Boinamo said: ”The government must also commit itself to focusing on those learners who were unsuccessful in their attempt to complete the matric exam. They may not be left behind.

”Moreover, 2008 will be a challenging year on the education front.

”The possibility of a strike is looming as the government continues to lower the morale and hopes of educators,” he said.

The National Democratic convention said for those matriculants who had not passed, it hoped the plan of action of the Education Department would work.

Spokesperson Margaret Arnolds said it was very disappointing and sad to know that these students had not failed because they were not committed, but because the system had failed them.

”The teachers were striking, the demarcation situation in Khutsong sparked those students not to go to school. We even have a situation where some of our students do not have excess to schools because of their financial situation,” she said.

According to the Federation of Unions of South Africa, the matric results of 2007 again demonstrated that the education system had not delivered.

”We are concerned that many young people who have just matriculated, or those who have not passed, will not find employment,” said general secretary Dennis George.

”Many young people will find it extremely difficult to get a permanent decent job. The reason being is that the economy is not creating sufficient employment opportunities for the many young people.”

Matriculants have worked hard to overcome the challenges they experienced this year in terms of the teachers’ strike, said the Independent Democrats (ID).

”These young South Africans have shown that with hard work and character, it is possible to succeed, despite obstacles being placed in their way,” said deputy ID leader Simon Grindrod. — Sapa