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Expect a drop in matric pass rate

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Teacher unions and education experts predict there will not be a drastic drop in the quality of pass rate.

South Africa. Cape Town. 261120. The 2020 National Senior Certificate Examination maths paper. Picture Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

WHILE this year’s matric pass rate for state schools is expected to decline from the 81.3% recorded in 2019, teacher unions and education experts predict there will not be a drastic drop in the quality of pass rate.

Department of Basic Education (DBE) Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to release the 2020 National Senior Certificate exam results today, and district results will be announced tomorrow.

The Independent Examinations Board National Senior Certificate (NSC) recorded a 98.07% pass rate, slightly lower than the 2019 pass rate of 98.82%.

This comes as quality assurer Umalusi last week gave the green light for the release of the results.

DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said all systems were in place for the announcements.

“We urged pupils to go to school to get their results there. If they are not happy make sure to register for a rewrite or remark.”

Education analyst and professor from the University of Pretoria’s Department of Educational Psychology, Kobus Maree, said although pupils had worked hard, a decline in the pass rate was expected due to challenges out of pupils’ control.

“We have lost a lot of teaching time and many schools had challenges with online communication. The outcomes of the 2020 exams may be poorer in disadvantaged schools than any other areas. I doubt that there will be a major drop in the quality of the passes. Umalusi has given the outcomes regarding Maths Paper 2 and Physical Sciences Paper 2 the go-ahead. I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”

Maree said the bigger problem would be the number of students knocking on university doors, as not all of them would be accepted.

National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa) executive director Basil Manuel said: “If there was no decline in the pass rate we would all have more questions than answers, because in this climate you’ve got to expect that Covid-19 would have had an impact. But take nothing away from the teachers, that must be celebrated.”

Manuel said he didn’t believe the pass rate would decline by more than 5%.

“I base that on some of the things that were said in the Umalusi press briefing about the raw scores being used and the need not being there to do many adjustments. I do also hope that Umalusi, when it was doing the standardisation of the results, did reflect on the real impact of Covid-19. If it didn’t, I would be very disappointed,” he said.