It is apparent based on inaccurate media reports in a number of media outlets that there is a widespread misunderstanding on the Department of Basic Education’s decision to condone learners who did not meet the requisite mathematics requirements for progression to the next grade in the senior phase (Gr7 to 9).
It may therefore be necessary to put it in the most simple way possible. To start with, there is no such thing as a 20% pass mark for mathematics and there has been no change in the progression policy to reflect such.
Most people who are familiar with the South African education system will recall that in the past, if you failed a language you would fail the year. You could fail mathematics and still pass the year if you passed your languages with above 40% and all of your other subjects. After the introduction of the new curriculum (CAPS) in 2014 the requirements changed. The DBE raised the bar in terms of the pass criteria. In addition to passing your two language subjects you have to pass one of them i.e. home language at minimum 50% and you have to pass mathematics at minimum 40%. In essence what the policy states is that even if you pass all of your other subjects with distinctions, but got less than 40% for mathematics you failed the year.
We are all aware that not everyone is mathematically inclined. Some people are more inclined towards the arts, others are better with technical subjects making this policy unfair to those who are forced to take mathematics but are not good at it.
You will also know that the choice to do Mathematics or Mathematics literacy comes in at the Grade 10 level, meaning it is compulsory for learners who are in Gr 7, 8, and 9 to do pure Mathematics.
Taking note of concerns around the suitability of the policy that were raised with the DBE by principals and Provincial Education Departments the DBE decided to take the policy under review. The concern was that learners who could go to the next grade based on meeting all other pass criteria were being held back in the grade unnecessarily. It has been shown that grade repetition can lead to increased school drop out, increased truancy and a number of other adverse effects. While the policy is under review a decision was take to condone those who passed all the subjects except that they did not meet the 40% criteria in Mathematics to the next grade. That is if they met all other pass requirements and obtained more than 20% in mathematics.
This decision is only applicable to senior phase learners and only applicable for the 2016 cohort of learners while we are at this point of policy review.
Enquiries: Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275