From a university management perspective, low pass rates (called throughput rates in university jargon) mean less money in the pocket and the spectre of undesirable outcomes, such as dropping courses from the academic offering, closing departments, less money to spend on the tartan track, fewer rugby bursaries — and the possibility of redundancies and layoffs raises its ugly head.
With the present funding formula for higher education in place, universities talk excellence but they simply cannot afford it. Universities can afford only mediocrity.
The launch in January 2012 of a cabinet-approved green paper on post-school education and training will intensify efforts to create a coherent higher education and training system in South Africa and set the tone for much of the work of the Department of Higher Education and Training for the rest of the year.
The creation of a new and integrated post-school system - a persistent intention of Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande since assuming office in 2009 - aims to respond to a situation in which about three million young South Africans aged between 18 and 24 are neither employed nor involved in education or training.
Top KwaZulu-Natal science teacher and principal Sibusiso Maseko has blasted the inclusion of mathematical literacy in the syllabus and criticised the province’s poor performance.
“As long as mathematical literacy is in the picture, our education results will continue to suffer. It negatively affects the real maths results, the inclusion of which is implying to children ‘you can’t pass, you are stupid’. This superficial passing of mathematical literacy must stop,” he said.
According to civil society group Equal Education (EE), an analysis of the results – taking into consideration the number of children who enrolled for Grade 1 12 years ago – reveals that the true pass rate was about 38 percent.
Education is a huge conversation, but almost all of the conversation is about education problems. There is not a serious or mature conversation about solutions. Meanwhile, lots of resources and attention are going into an ever-changing, wide variety of programs it is hoped will be part of some solution. How do we know when we’re looking at any given program, whether it can have game-changing impact on K-12 schools, or has no chance? I call the former, programs that “Actually Work.” Here I identify and describe four characteristics of any program that Actually Works: Scope,Results, Robustness, and Scalability. Failure at any one of these is failure to Work.
Learners may have a willingness to learn. But the bar is so low, we can't expect anything more than mediocrity. Well you know what? Mediocrity just won't cut it. We won't get any better if we don't constantly expect more. Teachers are responsible for this. We as teachers need to be greedy for standards. Push our students. Expect more from them. Expect more from ourselves. Mathematics is a wonderful subject, as they say “To do maths all you need is a pencil, some paper, and a bin.” (Then continues to say, “To do philosophy all you need is a pencil and some paper”). There is a lack of support from the DOE, we know this. Does this mean we should just throw our hands in the air and give up? I think not.
Twenty-seven of KwaZulu-Natal’s poorest schools pulled off an impressive achievement in the 2011 matric exams, recording a 100 percent pass rate, despite having few resources and limited infrastructure.
It was pure political theatre. The excited room was filled with government officials, government consultants, quasi-government agencies, politicians and pupils from government schools.
As if on cue, the room rang with applause as one education victory after another was claimed. This was, after all, the annual drama in which the minister of basic education appears on stage to announce the Grade 12 National Senior Certificate (NSC) results.
The National Curriculum Statement and the revised changes to the Curriculum and Assessment policy under outcomes-based education will see English introduced in Grade 1 as a first additional language, to be taught alongside a home language.
Primary school teachers are battling with the simple arithmetic they're meant to be teaching, according to a survey of education in South Africa.
"What is evident is that maths performance is not very good in the broader context of what one expects from primary level. Teachers are really struggling with issues such as calculating percentages," said Professor Servaas van den Berg of Stellenbosch University'seconomics department.
"More than half of the teachers thought if the height of a fence is raised from 60cm to 75cm, it was a 15% increase," he said.