Next week Tuesday, 07 February 2017, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education will meet to discuss the 2016 Matric Results for the first time this year.
For this meeting to be of real value, it is essential that it is used as an opportunity to exercise appropriate oversight over the Department of Basic Education, especially in light of a number of worrying developments which the Matric results have highlighted over the past month.
To this end, the DA will today request that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Nomalungelo Gina, summon the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to attend the briefing, and face questions from members of the committee.
The DA will be posing questions on three key issues, which we have identified since the results were released earlier this month, namely:
It is unacceptable that there are 38 schools across three provinces that have not managed to attain a 40% pass rate in the past five years. Section 58B of the Schools Act clearly spells out the need for the Minister to ensure that the MECs for Education in these provinces address the problems at these schools, and report to her on their actions are taken within three months of the end of the school year. Five years of underperformance is simply inexcusable and the Minister must detail the steps taken to assist each school in addressing its underperformance.
Culling at schools:
A closer look at the Matric results shows that an astonishing 44, 6% of learners either dropped out of the system altogether or remain stuck in Grade 10 and 11. More disturbingly, there are allegations that the high dropout rate may be due to the ‘culling’ of pupils from the system to improve matric results. Minister Motshekga must tell us what she is doing to curb the drop-out rate and guard against the culling of weak learners.
Umalusi standardisation process:
The lack of transparency on Umalusi’s standardisation process creates unnecessary suspicion around the adjustment of the Matric results. The Minister must explain whether the upward adjustments of the raw marks in mathematics, mathematical literacy and 26 other subjects led to an artificial inflation of the marks, and commit to provide all the documentation which I have requested from Umalusi CEO, Dr Mafu Rakometsi.
Education is key to overcoming inequality and poverty in South Africa today. For this to happen, however, we need a well-functioning Department, with a Minister who is determined to take all necessary steps to ensure a quality education for all South Africans, and especially those from poor communities.
The DA urges the Portfolio Committee to demonstrate its commitment to making this happen by using its powers to summon the Minister for a full explanation on the 2016 Matric Results.
Gavin Davis MP
DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education