Major decline in Matric STEM subject enrollment

Issued by Nomsa Marchesi MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
27 Oct 2020 in News

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to provide urgent plans on the work it is doing to reverse the alarming trend of decreases in Matric enrollment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

In a presentation before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, the Department revealed that enrollment for STEM subjects decreased as follows from 2016 to 2020:

  • Mathematics decreased by 40 385
  • Physical Sciences decreased by 18 461
  • Life Sciences decreased by 21 940

These figures are alarming as it indicates that South Africa is heading backwards as it relates to enrollment in critical STEM subjects.

Provincial Education Departments have also reported that among Grade 11s Mathematics and Physical Science recorded the lowest averages compared to all other subjects.

This also means that in 2021 we can expect even fewer students to take these demanding subjects.

If the government is truly committed to the 4th industrial revolution, then greater emphasis will have to be put on getting learners into STEM subjects and other subjects of relevance to the immediate future, to encourage technological and digital innovation within our economy.

Learners need to understand that while these Maths and Science are demanding subjects, they should not be feared and could open many doors.

The DBE must address this regression in STEM subject enrollment, or the 4th industrial revolution will remain a pipe.