Education department perplexed, DA claims ‘absurd’

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga. Photo: Archive

‘Another ridiculous statement’ released by the DA has perplexed the basic education department.

DA MP Gavin Davies’ statement read: “Close analysis of the 2016 matric results reveals a very high ‘drop-out rate’, leading to speculation that some learners may have been ‘culled’ to inflate the matric pass rate.”

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The DA stated that the education department displayed figures of 1 100 877 learners enrolled for grade 10 in 2014, but only 610 178 enrolled for grade 12 in 2016.

“This means that 44,6 per cent of learners either dropped out of the system altogether or remain stuck in grade 10 and 11,” Davies’ statement concluded.

Basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said these claims were very much absurd.

“What makes this claim even more disappointing is that the department has in fact done the exact opposite by progressing learners who have failed the Further Education and Training (FET) phase more than once,” said Mhlanga.

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“So in essence, we have pushed an additional 65 673 learners through the system who sat for the November examinations, this at the risk of a drop in the percentage.”

Mhlanga said if learners in 2014 failed grade 10 they would not be reflected in the 2016 cohort of grade 12’s, and the same if they failed grade 11 if they left the system and/or went to attend a college.

He said the explanations were quite frankly endless.

He said the education department was well aware of the situation regarding the high rate of learners dropping out and the reality was that it had a loss of approximately 30 per cent of learners between grade 10 and 12.

Mhlanga’s reasoning was it was either due to social-economic reasons, youth criminality, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, death, attending alternative education institutions, employment, as well as dropping out due to the frustration of continued grade repetition.

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“As a result, we have put a number of interventions in place to counter these. The most bold of yet is the progression policy which is the exact opposite of the DA’s ridiculous assertions.”

Mhlanga advised Davis to broaden his network of advisors and to include a selection of diverse and reputable education experts so he would avoid the repeated embarrassment of his illogical statements.

“We are getting used to the DA whining about the matric results every time the Western Cape does not come first, and Davies is fast losing any kind of credibility with the absurd and plainly ignorant, sensationalist statements.”

Mhlanga said this was a mischievous accusation aimed at diverting attention from the constructive analysis arising from the gains made by the education system in recent years.

“We reject his assertion that learners were culled. The fact of the matter is that we have spent resources towards a comprehensive learner support programme implemented countrywide,” Mhlanga said.

He said the department will continue to implement measures that are aimed at keeping learners in the education system and giving them an opportunity to become productive citizens.

The DA said it has written to minister Angie Motshekga to request an investigation into the high ‘drop-out’ rate, and specifically whether it was the result of learners being ‘culled’ by schools under pressure from districts and provincial education departments.

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Reitumetse Mahope

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