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Education Department raises pass mark in Senior Phase, 23 November 2014


The Department of Basic Education has raised the pass mark for grades 7, 8 and 9 as part of its efforts of improving the quality of education in the public school system.

The National Curriculum Statement (NCS), Grades R-12, underpinned by the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) has been implemented in 2014 in the Senior Phase (Grade 7, 8 and 9) for the first time.


The intention of CAPS was to improve the standard and quality of curriculum implementation. CAPS encapsulate the new promotion requirements which are considerably higher than the previous promotion requirements. This is in keeping with the Department’s plan to raise the benchmark for learning achievement. The changes relate to the following:



Pass seven of the nine subjects

Pass eight of the nine subjects

One Official Language passed at 40% and a second official Language passed at 30%

50% Pass requirement in Home Languages and 40% pass requirement in First Additional Language

Condonation allowed in one of the subjects

No condonation allowed


The change relates not only to the raising of pass requirements in Language but also, only allows learners to fail one subject without a condonation dispensation.

The Department embarked on an intensive programme of teacher development and the provision of Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM), to prepare the system for CAPS implementation across all phases, including the implementation in the Senior Phase.


The Department has also closely monitored the implementation of the CAPS across all provinces, noting the challenges associated with the initial implementation of a curriculum change. Internationally, it has been observed that curriculum changes result in some degree of instability in the system and it takes a few years before the system adapts and compensates for these changes. Therefore, the Department has been extra vigilant to the possible impact of the curriculum transition.


It was apparent from the mid-year performance, that the new promotion requirements were adversely affecting the performance achievement at the school level. However, it would have been premature for the Department to respond at that stage and therefore learner performance data was awaited from the writing of the final examination in November 2014.


Reports from the provinces have indicated that learners have been negatively affected by the new promotion requirements beyond the expected level. Therefore, it would be unfair to the 2014 cohort of learners to bear the brunt of a systemic change and there is a need for the Department to manage the transition and the possible depressed learner performance. The Acting Director-General, Paddy Padayachee, has therefore provided the Heads of Department in the Provincial Education Department with a guideline to assist managers at the district and circuit level to ensure that the performance of schools in the Senior Phase does not deviate drastically from the historical school trend. This entailed a closely controlled and strictly managed process, under the supervision of the District manager, who will collectively with the school principal, analyse the performance of the school in 2014 with reference to its previous performance. Where there is a substantial drop in the school performance, the district manager will make adjustments to the results within clearly defined parameters.

It is anticipated that overall school performance in 2014 at the Senior Phase, despite the DBE intervention, will be lower than previous years as this is the outcome of a high skills, high knowledge curriculum and improved assessment standards. Therefore, the intervention by the Department has been instituted to mitigate the major variances in learner performance that may be observed at specific schools and at specific grades. The current dispensation introduced by the Acting Director-General does not negate the current regulations relating to the new curriculum requirements, but is in sync with the moderation and standardisation practices that are adopted world over in large assessment systems as a quality assurance tool and also as a mechanism to manage anomalies that are the consequence of a transition.

Click here for Promotion guidelines

Enquiries: Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275


                                    ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION

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Written By: buhlebendalo somgede
Date Posted: 8/7/2019
Number of Views: 339

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