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The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) says the Matric 2020 class deserves the outmost praise for enduring the most challenging year.

SADTU made the remarks following the release of the 2020 National Senior Certificate (NSC) results by Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, on Monday. 

The Class of 2020 registered an overall pass rate of 76.2%, a 5.1% drop from the record pass of 81.3% achieved by the class of 2019.

The union welcomed the 2020 NSC results, noting that the decline in the pass rate does not come as a surprise following the disruptions experienced in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“SADTU commends all the stakeholders, especially the teachers and learners who gave their all to prepare and write this crucial examination under difficult conditions.

“We are, however, aware that some learners withdrew from their studies and therefore did not write the examination due COVID-19 fears,” said SADTU General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke.

Maluleke commended rural, township and no-fee paying schools for attaining the most quality passes, which is no a continuing trend.

“These schools that suffer due to lack of resources were the hardest hit by COVID-19, as they had little or no access to blended learning opportunities and therefore could not continue learning from home during the lockdown.

“When schools eventually opened, learners from these schools could not easily adjust to the new COVID-19 environment, as their schools could not meet all the COVID-19 protocols,” Maluleke said.

Maluleke said the good performance of these schools come at a huge cost.

“Teachers had to conduct catch up lessons over weekends, holidays, early mornings and late afternoons to teach and prepare the matric class for these examinations. However, going the extra mile has become a norm for teachers and learners in these schools, as they have to compensate for the inadequate resources they have.

“The current post provisioning model puts learners in poorer communities at a disadvantage. We therefore call for an equitable funding formula so that we can see poorer schools receiving more resources. Individual school needs should be taken into account when budgeting,” the General Secretary said.

Decline in critical subjects

Meanwhile, SADTU has raised concerns with the continuous decline in the number of learners who take critical subjects like Mathematics, Physical Science and Life Sciences.

“As numbers decrease, we are equally disappointed with the low pass rate in these subjects. We believe this situation could be turned around if the department increased investment in the foundation phase and early childhood development phases.

“We reiterate our call for the results not to be made a contest among the provinces.  The uneven performance among the provinces has nothing to do with the learners and the quality of teaching, but has to do with the uneven distribution of resources,” Maluleke said.

He called on the learners who did not make it not to give up but to embrace the situation “They managed to reach Grade12 and this should motivate them to register for the Second Chance programme.”

Triumph in the face of adversity

Also welcoming the results, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) said achieving a pass rate of 76.2% in the face of the adversity Grade 12 learners experienced in 2020 is beyond expectation.

“NAPTOSA congratulates each matriculant who was successful in the 2020 examination. Dedication, resilience and hard work once again proved to be the elements of success.

“Compliments are also extended to the DBE and Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) on the successful management and completion of the 2020 NSC examination.

“Circumstances in 2020 did not favour the departments. To achieve the lowest rate of exam absenteeism in years in these circumstances is quite an achievement, especially considering that 74 165 candidates more wrote the 2020 NSC examination,” NAPTOSA President, Nkosipendule Ntantala said.

NAPTOSA also echoed SADTU’S concern regarding the drop in learners taking Mathematics.

“One area of the NSC results that is disconcerting is the drop of more than 15 000 candidates who enrolled for pure Mathematics. NAPTOSA believes too many learners are allowed to stop taking pure Mathematics in Grade 10 in favour of Mathematical Literacy.

“Is this about schools and PEDs chasing the 100% pass rate? What then about the life chances of these learners or even the future needs of the country? It is important that learners be given the maximum assistance to continue taking pure Mathematics in Grade 12,” Ntantala said.


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