The 2009 National Senior Certificate (Grade 12) results have been announced. A lot of spin has been employed, as usual, to hide the dismal performance which mirrors a progressing terrible state of education in South Africa. We will strip the propaganda out of the hardly ‘clever’ presentation of the results by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga.
As expected, the failure rate went up (only 60.7% pass rate) from the previous year by 2% instead of going down. This means almost half (50%) of learners who wrote Grade 12 examinations failed. We expect the pass rate to improve progressively not to decline and this is what the government promised for the past 15 years. These results are not only distressing and disappointing as described by the Minister but they are actually a disaster. Let’s face it; a near 50% failure rate is along the lines of a horror.
Again teachers are being made scapegoats but the truth is that the ultimate responsibility to deliver quality education and excellent performance lies with the Department of Education. When did the Minister realize that the Teachers are not adequately trained and what did she do about it? The same excuse has been made each year for the past 15 years.
About 580 577 full time learners wrote the exams and almost 70% of these did not achieve university entrance. A mere 32% managed to get university entrance according to the Minister. In more honest words it means almost 70% of just over 50% of those who ‘passed’ do not meet the criteria to study at Universities. When it comes to the scarce skills subjects like Maths, Science and Accounting the pass rate has declined and the ‘clever’ Minister does not tell us what the pass or failure rate simply because she desires to conceal the apparent disastrous performance in these areas.
The transformational agenda to uplift Africans in general and women in particular also suffered a great deal hence we are not given the breakdown of the results in terms of nationality and gender. Given the history of Apartheid settler colonialism and its attendant legacy of gross disparity we surely want to know how many of those who passed are Africans and women.
Majority of learners who come from the ranks of the poor African working class masses still learn and write exams through the medium of English (a language of minority European descendants). The issue of introducing indigenous languages as mediums of instructions at all levels is long overdue and the ruling ANC government has failed dismally despite the fact that a Pan South African Language Board has been established to ensure that all languages are adequately developed and treated equally.
It is time parents, learners and teachers rise to demand fundamental change in the political administration of education, and the whole education system. Let’s not wait nor pin our hopes on ‘clever’ Ministers, who spin information year-in-year-out, to change the quality of education in this country. The required change can only be brought by the poor African working class masses.
We however congratulate those who have made it against all odds while encouraging those who fell victims of a failed and neglected education system not to despair and hope that those successful destitute students will be afforded an opportunity to further their studies. Revolutionary student’s organizations must ensure that these prospective students are admitted to institutions of higher learning.