The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has rebuffed media reports on the minimum promotion requirements in school, labelling these claims as misleading.
Government communication service SANews.gov.za responded to an article which appeared in national Afrikaans Sunday rag Rapport titled “Nòg ‘n verlaging van slaagpunte ‘beledig jonges’”, which was subsequently churnalised by Mybroadband.co.za under the headline “Government wants to drop pass marks in school even further”.
According to the government service the reports are riddled with errors. “It is confusing and also vague… It seems the journalist did not have sufficient information or did not fully understand the issue under discussion.
“One glaring error in the article (in Rapport) refers to purported changes to be made in promotion requirements in Grade 10 and 11. The truth is, there are no such changes being made or anticipated [to be made] or being discussed,” the department said in a statement.
National Curriculum Statement
The department said the Task Team established by the Minister of Education in 2009 to investigate poor curriculum implementation in schools recommended changes to the programme and promotion requirements in the Foundation, Intermediate and Senior Phase.
“The National Curriculum Statement, Grades R – 12, was approved as national policy and published in the Government Gazette 34600, Notices 722 and 723 of 12 September 2011, and it contained the new promotion and progression requirements.
“The new promotion requirements are not aligned with the National Senior Certificate (NSC) promotion requirements, which is the national benchmark. Hence, there is a need to align the promotion requirements across the Foundation, Intermediate and Senior Phase with the FET [Further Education and Training] band,” the department explained.
The department said it has been monitoring the implementation of the new requirements in provinces, and it was apparent from the 2014 mid-year performance that the new promotion requirements were adversely affecting the performance of learners at school level.
National Assessment Circular
To minimise the impact of the higher promotion requirements in the Senior Phase, the department issued National Assessment Circular 3 of 2015 to allow for the adjustment of marks and in 2016, given the adverse impact of the compulsory pass requirement of Mathematics at 40%, a special condonation dispensation for Mathematics was applied.
Based on National Assessment Circular 3 of 2016, the department said, learners who passed all other subjects, but failed Mathematics with a minimum mark of 20%, were condoned and would thus pass Mathematics and pass the examination as a whole.
“It is therefore considered necessary, having observed the negative impact of the compulsory pass requirement of Mathematics at 40% and Language (Home Language) at 50%, to consider amending policy and regulations in order to respond to the challenges and the unintended consequences brought about by the new programme and promotion requirements,” the department said.
In view of these observations, the department said it will embark on a broad consultation process with educationists, assessment experts, higher education institutions, parents and members of the public, on the amendments to the Foundation, Intermediate and Senior Phase promotion requirements.
The proposal that will be consulted on relating to the Senior Phase includes:
Passing four subjects at 40%, one of which is a Home Language;
Passing any other four subjects at 30%; and
Mathematics being removed as a compulsory promotion requirement.
“The above proposal is aligned to the current requirements in the FET band. Once discussed internally and externally, approved and promulgated, the relevant policy and curriculum changes will be communicated to all relevant stakeholder bodies by means of official curriculum and examination circulars.
“At this point, this is merely an issue for internal discussion and broader public consultation,” the department said.