Call for innovation to improve learning outcomes at SA schools

todayJanuary 19, 2024 28

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Welcoming the class of 2023’s 82.9% matric pass rate, education and community activist, Zonke Mpotulo, says the Department of Basic Education needs to work alongside other learning organisations to innovate and better prepare matriculants for the working world.

Mpotulo is the founder of the LEAP Science and Maths School, which empowers young South Africans with academic and life skills.

She says, through their programmes, her organisation has realised that matriculants lack the skills needed to compete fairly in the job market.


Her remarks follow concerns raised by some social commentators and organisations that the results do not reflect the true quality of the country’s education system. 

Some opposition parties, such as the Democratic Alliance (DA), believe that the real matric pass rate should be calculated by bringing into account the number of learners that dropped out and never made it to matric.

Build One South Africa (BOSA), believes the Basic Education Department needs a leadership overhaul.

“We cannot be distracted by Angie Motshekga’s fanfare last night celebrating the individual accomplishments of our brilliant learners who overcame a system that is stacked against them. Instead, we are focused on calling for a new leadership team for the education department and new ideas that can get this vital department back on track,” party leader, Mmusi Maimane, says in a statement.

He says while plausible, the 82.9% pass rate, doesn’t paint a true picture of the state of education in South Africa.

“Here are indicators which are cause for concern. Dropout rate: 4 out of 10 learners (38%) who began grade one in 2012 did not matriculate last year. In 2012 there were 1 208 973 pupils in grade one – only 740 566 of which made it to the matric examination desk. That means there are almost 470 000 young persons who will find it difficult to get a job and will likely become part of the youth unemployment line.” 

Teacher’s Union, NAPTOSA, agrees that more needs to be done to improve the learning outcomes in South African schools.

In 2021, the International Reading and Learning Study found that 81% of Grade 4 learners were not able to read for meaning, raising questions over whether anything changes when they get to higher levels of education.

The union’s Executive Director, Basil Manuel, says measures to strengthen the quality of education at the foundation phase will go a long way in changing the fortunes of young South Africans.

Manuel is calling for the improvement of the entire system.

The governing ANC and the EFF have meanwhile applauded the matric class of 2023.

The EFF has encouraged the country’s matriculants to go on and pursue post-matric qualifications, while the governing ANC has applauded the group for overcoming several hurdles, including the lingering impact of the coronavirus pandemic.



Written by: Naomi Kobbie

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