In a reply to a parliamentary question, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has revealed that the Western Cape, and not the Free State, was the top-performing province in the 2016 Matric results.
This is according to the Department of Basic Education’s new format of reporting known as “An Inclusive Basket of Criteria”. This new format replaces the previous narrow focus on the Matric pass rate when Matric results are announced.
The table below shows the performance of each Provincial Education Department in Matric 2016 in terms of the Inclusive Basket of Criteria:
|Province||Weighted Basket Scores|
|Overall Basket Score||Overall Pass % (W: 35%)||% Maths Passed (W: 10%)||% Physics Passed (W: 10%)||% Bachelor Passes (W: 15%)||% Distinctions (W: 10%)||% Maths Participation (W:10)||% Throughput Rate (W: 10%)|
This is important because a low throughput rate indicates a high number of learners either dropping out of the system, or being held back. Indeed, a high pass rate can be manufactured if weak learners are actively held back or encouraged to exit the system.
The top-performing province was, in fact, the DA-governed Western Cape. Besides achieving the highest proportion of mathematics passes, bachelor passes and distinctions, the Western Cape also had the highest throughput rate. The Free State, by contrast, had the fifth highest throughput rate.
This means that the Free State was not the top-performing province as claimed by Minister Motshekga and the Free State MEC, Mr. Tate Makgoe.
Indeed, there is every reason to believe that the Free State’s high pass rate in 2016 was due to its low throughput rate.
The practice of holding learners back to inflate the pass rate, known as ‘culling’ or ‘gatekeeping’, is well known. Just last week, a Deputy Director-General in the Department of Basic Education told Parliament that some Principals deliberately hold back learners to inflate their school’s matric pass rate.
Despite this, Minister Motshekga has refused to entertain the DA’s request for a ministerial investigation into the practice known as ‘culling’ or ‘gatekeeping’.
Reporting on the ‘Inclusive Basket of Criteria’ will go some way to expose those principals, education officials and politicians who attempt to ‘game’ the system. But only a full-scale investigation will identify those guilty of ‘culling’, hold them to account and serve as a deterrent to those tempted to engage in the practice.
Principals, education officials and politicians should be focused on improving learning and teaching, not devising ways to artificially increase their pass rates. We, therefore, congratulate the Western Cape government for improving all aspects of education in the province, including its throughput rate.