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Poor Quality Education Trapping Children in Poverty

Thursday 13 February 2014

Save the Children South Africa congratulates all the successful Matriculants of 2013. Save the Children South Africa has been working closely with the Department of Basic Education in the Free State, and is encouraged to see that Province leading the pass rate in the country.

However, amidst the enthusiasm surrounding the announcement of a 78,2% pass rate for 2013 Matriculants, Save the Children South Africa remains deeply concerned about the continuing crisis in our education system, resulting in yet more children being trapped in the cycle of poverty.  

Mr Neven Hendricks, Chairman of Save the Children South Africa, says, “The 30% minimum pass requirement instituted by the Minister of Basic Education is a violation of the rights of South Africa’s children to quality education. The current Basic Education system with its low subject pass rate is incapable of equipping school leavers with the skills they need to qualify for further education or training or to obtain meaningful employment”.

Save the Children South Africa joins Professor Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, and others in calling for a pass rate of 50% in all subjects. Currently students are only required to achieve a minimum of 40% in their home language and Mathematics and 30% in their remaining subjects in order to obtain a National Senior Certificate. This unacceptably low pass rate is misleading and leaves many learners who have ‘passed’ significantly disadvantaged when competing for places in further education institutions. Many training centres and learning institutions now require school leavers to complete independent national benchmarking tests before entry.

Mr David Hopwood, CEO of Save the Children South Africa, explains, “The focus on raw pass rates deflects attention from the fundamental issue of educational quality. More resources - supported by robust leadership - must be allocated to improve teacher training and to enable schools to deliver better with the resources they have. At a minimum, learners must have access to appropriate learning materials and properly qualified, motivated teachers. Quality education starts at a very early age; if children are not equipped and prepared during early childhood and foundation phase schooling, they will struggle to meet any Matric pass rate set by Government.”

Inequality in South Africa means that poor, predominantly black, children are less likely to receive a quality education, and are therefore less able to access employment or other opportunities, perpetuating and deepening inter-generational cycles of poverty.

Mr Hopwood adds, “Save the Children South Africa believes that change is possible if we work together to build a movement for quality education. We need children, parents and communities to harness their energies and work with Government to radically improve the quality of education in our country”.  

For interviews and further information, please contact: Karen Allan, Save the Children South Africa, Advocacy and Communications Advisor.

Tel: +27 (0)12 430 7776

Email: [email protected]

Cell: +27 (0)74 131 4041