Dept bungling to blame for low pass rate

Friday, January 8, 2010

Nelspruit - Mpumalanga's MEC for Education, Reginah Mhaule, says uncoordinated intervention strategies may have lead to the province scoring the lowest matric pass rate in the country.

The province achieved a 47.9 percent pass rate, which is below the national average of 60.7 percent.

Mhaule explained that intervention strategies used in a bid to avoid a repeat of last year's fiasco when some provincial results were not released had not successfully been implemented and this had lead to the province recording a drop of 3.9 percent from 2008.

"The interventions we used last year did not work. I personally believe that all the efforts were correct but may have not been well coordinated," said Mhaule, at a press briefing in Nelspruit on Thursday.

Mhaule said teachers may have failed to perform because they were under pressure to file administrative reports to satisfy the various demands from the national Department of Basic Education, as well as provincial and regional departments.

"Teaching at many schools could have been interrupted because a team from the national department would visit a school, seeking reports, and the next week it was our provincial or regional teams demanding them," she said.

Mhaule said the more time teachers spent doing administrative work, the more pupils missed out on lessons that could have yielded better results.

She said this year the department would ensure that all education strategies were streamlined and that no teachers were overburdened with administrative work.

"The essential duty of a teacher is to provide lessons in the classroom, not to spend time working on files. If they have less administrative work, there will be no excuse for underperformance. No amount of resourcing can substitute time spent on good teaching," she said.

Mhaule said while she had no "scientific conclusions" about the cause of the drop in the province's pass rate, she said perhaps the service delivery protests which rocked Mpumalanga last year could also have contributed.

"I can see at a glance that the unrest that took place in most communities may have had an impact."

The provincial department is to hold an urgent meeting to analyse the 2009 results, with a focus on the trends in performance of each subject, region, circuit and school.

Schools that were chronic underperformers would be dealt with decisively.

"If we need to remove a principal or teacher or circuit manager, then it will be done. We want to set an example with those who are not willing to assist us in achieving our goals," said Mhaule.