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Mathematics – no longer compulsory?

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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga Picture: Oupa Mokoena

THE Department of Basic Education has started a process of consultation on proposed amendments to pass requirements for pupils in Grades 1 to 9, which would see mathematics removed as a compulsory pass requirement.

These proposals are to align pass requirements with that of Grades 10 to 12.

When pass marks were introduced for Grades 10 to 12 in 2014, those for lower grades were not adjusted, department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said, and that had an adverse affect pupils.

Pass requirements for pupils in Grades 10 to 12 are: 40% in three subjects, one of which is an official language at home language level; and 30% in three subjects.

Proposed amendments, for Grades 7 to 9, are:

Pass four subjects at 40%, one of which is a home
language.

Pass any other
four subjects at 30%; and

Maths removed as a
compulsory promotion requirement.

“The promotion requirements are not aligned with the National Senior Certificate (matric) promotion requirements, which is the national benchmark.

“There is a need to align the promotion requirements across the Foundation, Intermediate and Senior Phase with the Further Education and Training (Grade 12) band

“It is considered necessary, having observed the negative impact of the compulsory pass requirement of maths at 40% and language (home language), at 50%, to consider amending policy and regulations in order to respond to the challenges and the unintended consequences brought about by the new programme and promotion requirements,” Mhlanga said.

In 2009 a task team established by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to investigate poor curriculum implementation in schools recommended, among others, changes to the programme and promotion requirements in Grades 1 to 9.

The department will now embark on a broad consultation process with educationalists, assessment experts, higher education institutions, parents and members of the public, on the amendments to the foundation, intermediate and senior phase promotion requirements, Mhlanga said.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said while pass requirements have to be revised from time to time, the Education Department must also examine the effect it would have on pupils who want to study further.

Universities felt many students spend too much time in bridging courses, Maluleke said, and pass marks at schools needs to equip pupils with the skills and confidence to survive tertiary education.

Sadtu will study the new proposed amendments, and make recommendations to the department, Maluleke said.

“Promotion requirements must not only be looked at from a statistical point, but also consider the skills and lessons pupils learn, pass-rate quality is very important,” Maluleke said.

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