By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband
The recent matric results announced by Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga reflected a pass rate of 76.2%, down by more than five percentage points compared with last year’s results.
Additionally, the “real matric pass rate”, which measures the number of students who were enrolled in grade 10 two years earlier and passed their matric exam in 2020, is now 44.1%.
The Department of Education noted in its report that it was concerned with the significant decline in the pass rate for Mathematics and Physical Science.
A pass refers to the achievement of 30% or more in a subject.
Mathematics performance among South African learners remains shockingly poor, as more learners choose to take Mathematics Literacy over core Mathematics.
The matric results data reflects the Mathematics pass rate fell by 0.8 percentage points to 53.8%, while the Physical Science pass rate fell by 9.7 percentage points to 65.8%.
Few matrics achieve university mathematics thresholds
The Department of Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation has set national targets for academic performance in mathematics and science.
It uses a threshold of 60% to determine the matric candidates’ potential to qualify for university faculties such as engineering, commerce, and medicine.
The latest matric results reflect a significant increase in the number of learners who achieved more than 60% for mathematics, although this figure remains shockingly poor compared with the total number of matrics.
Out of the 578,468 students who wrote matric exams, only 43,447 (8%) achieved more than 60% in Mathematics.
Compared with the total number of matrics who were enrolled in the same cohort in Grade 1 the figure is even more shocking.
The data shows that of the 1,072,993 students who were enrolled in grade 1 in 2009, only 4% went on to achieve more than 60% in matric Mathematics.
The move to Mathematics Literacy
A major factor that affects this performance is the steep decline in matrics choosing to do Mathematics.
Instead, most students now choose to study Mathematics Literacy, which precludes them from studying technical subjects at university.