South Africa

‘We benchmark against the best,’ says Motshekga, but 4 out of 10 pupils flunk in the Free State

Angie Motshekga quality education

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says the quality of South Africa’s education is competing well in the world, however there is room for improvement.

In a briefing with the radio station, 702 on Monday, ahead of the announcement of the Matric results outcome, Motshekga talked about her department’s state of readiness for the start of the academic year.

“We benchmark ourselves against the best systems. For instance, our NSC was benchmarked against international exam systems and we sat relatively well. There were areas where we were advised to improve on. Perhaps reduce the number of topics we teach so that we go deeper,” she said.

Challenges in Education

The minister said the groundwork for learning and teaching needs more improvement. Such as a system where pupils are taught in their home languages for their learning experience to improve.

“The language used in schools has residue from apartheid, where African children learn in a language other their own. This impacts their learning,” said Motshekga.

The Free State usually has the best Matric pass rate in South Africa. However, in a shocking turn of events the same province had a relatively low pass rate in 2023.

Almost 40% in Grade 10 and 26% of Grade 8s did not pass their examinations.

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According to Motshekga, these pupils fail their exams because they are not used to writing “rigorous” exams prior to Matric.

“Repetition rates are also very high after the basic education phase because some pupils find it difficult to cope with further education and training to prepare them for higher education,” said Motshekga.

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Integrity of the National Senior Certificate

The issue of cheating is one of the many challenges that the Department of Basic Education has to deal with. Minister Motshekga said there have not been any reports of leaked papers over the last two years.

However, last year in Mpumalanga some teachers helped pupils to cheat.

“These are normally, not always, but normally independent schools whose fortunes rely on being able to boast about good results. So they get desperate and do all sorts of unacceptable things, but because they write our exams, any wrong doing on their side affects the entire system,” said Motshekga.

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The minister said these instances are taken seriously and reported.

Moreover, there have been issues with printing and translation in last year’s papers. Motshekga says these issues were detected and resolved with the pupils and uMalusi.

“The results from the last five years confirm that the system has really stabilized,” said Motshekga hinting on this year’s Matric results.

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