Pretoria – The Department of Basic Education has dismissed claims that it removed some learners to get a higher pass rate in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.
The claims emanate from a statement made by Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament, Gavin Davies. The department said the claims were “ridiculous and disappointing”.
The department said it had in fact done the opposite by progressing learners who had failed in the Further Education and Training (FET) phase more than once.
“In essence, we pushed an additional 65 673 learners through the system who sat for the November examinations at the risk of a drop in the [pass rate] percentage.
“The progressed learner policy contradicts [Davies’] claims sharply… 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,” the department said.
It said the Grade 12 examinations are not primarily designed to measure whether there is progress in the system as a whole or even in individual schools.
“The main purpose of these examinations is to provide learners with an exit qualification. This is our main objective as the DBE.
“While we do like to register progress and are encouraged when we see the fruits of our hard work reflecting in the results, the main objective is always to try to get learners to leave the system with a qualification.”
The department said it will continue to implement measures that are aimed at keeping learners in the education system to give them an opportunity to become productive citizens.
Learner dropout rates
The department also said it is well aware of learner dropout rates. Approximately 30% of learners are lost between Grade 10 and 12.
The reasons vary from socio-economic, 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.
“As a result, we have put a number of interventions in place to counter these. The boldest yet is the progression policy, which is the exact opposite of the DA’s ridiculous assertions,” said the department.