We would be the first to admit that the number of pupils who passed is negligible compared with those who failed Grade 11 in 2017
Calls by one of the country’s two major teacher unions to scrap the Grade 12 progressed-pupils policy are selfish and do not take into account the needs of struggling matriculants.
At the announcement of the 2018 matric results, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga praised teachers and provinces for investing in the progressed-pupils policy.
The minister had good reason to be happy because 20122 pupils who had failed their Grade 11 exams more than once, had passed matric. This was out of 33412 who had sat for the matric exams.
However, not everyone shared Motshekga’s optimism, as the National Teachers Union (Natu) and the SA Democratic Teachers Unions (Sadtu) were quick to criticise the policy, calling for it to be scrapped.
Natu’s Allen Thompson complained that teachers were overworked, while department officials were quick to encourage pupils to write as part-time candidates to maintain a good matric pass rate .
We would be the first to admit that the number of pupils who passed is negligible compared with those who failed Grade 11 in 2017.
Granted, it is regrettable that a whopping 95222 progressed matrics did not sit for all their subjects and were unaccounted for in the national pass rate. It is not fair to be critical of the policy when it is the duty of all education stakeholders to ensure progressed matrics eventually sit for their exams.
Think of the more than 20000 progressed pupils who passed and the 2676 who obtained university passes.
If it was not for this policy they would, as Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi pointed out, be dependent on the state social grants, languishing in prison or dead.
We owe it to our young people to ensure that no expense is spared in our efforts to give them a shot at a better life.