Some education experts fear that the matric class of 2020 will not produce good results come 23 February 2020. They have predicted that this year’s matriculants will have a lower pass rate and fewer distinctions than matriculants in past years.
A professor of economics at Stellenbosch University, Servaas van der Berg said the average matriculant has most likely lost “about a quarter of the scheduled school days this year”.
“Thus on average, they would be less prepared for the examination than in previous years”
He said recent data from a survey had shown that only 88% of matriculants had returned to school in July.
“The exact number now back at school is not known but as many as 10% of matrics may not return this year at all because of health concerns or because of having lost confidence that they can pass in these circumstances.”
Van der Berg said Umalusi is going to have a tough time this year, as the body responsible for regulating the final exams.
Earlier this year, Umalusi CEO, Mafu Rakometsi said Umalusi would not cut down on the amount of content that learners would be tested on in the final exam scheduled to happen in November.
“Umalusi, as a quality assurance body does not advocate for the downgrading or trimming down of the quality of examinations. In particular, tinkering with the content of question papers, we do not support that line of thinking”
Van der Berg is concerned that children across South Africa have been experiencing many inequalities since they had to adjust to distance learning.
“This year’s circumstances would have increased inequalities between children in different schools and even between children in the same school because of differential access to the internet and differences in parents’ ability to support their studies.”
He said the possibility of a high pass rate was low, even for learners who attend schools with the right resources.
“It is inevitable that the matric pass rate would be significantly lower…Even at the top end, one would expect to see fewer distinctions”
National President of the South African Principals’ Association, David de Korte said the pass rate is expected to decrease by 3% to 5%.
“We will most likely see at least 80% of progressed learners failing and this will further pull the average down.
Experts are also concerned about how access to the internet affects learners in rural areas more than learners in urban areas.
Professor Labby Ramrathan of the University of KwaZulu-Natal suggested that the matric exam be reviewed in order for learners to be given a wide range of questions to choose from.
“The learners would have an opportunity to answer questions in areas where they had some exposure through teaching rather than to answer questions that they may not have covered at school.”
However, professor Ursula Hoadley of the University of Cape Town said the idea of a pass rate is not very helpful to the current situation.
She said 62% 7 162 of schools said they would have covered the necessary content by the time exams start.
“A million learners will be able to write the most consequential examination of their lives. One can only imagine the mess we would be sitting with if the department of basic education had not pushed the boat out to secure these exams.”
The department is still standing by its decision to not change the final exams.
The more you understand yourself, the more silence there is, the healthier you are. —Maxime Lagacé