Matric mess: look out, the government has lied to you

DEAR reader, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your government lied to you when it said 60percent of matriculants have passed. The truth is only 21percent actually passed and I'm being generous here.

DEAR reader, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but your government lied to you when it said 60percent of matriculants have passed. The truth is only 21percent actually passed and I'm being generous here.

Basically we have a situation where, if you had 100 children who were supposed to be in matric last year, only about 20 would have passed.

Let me tell you about a well-kept national secret and monumental scandal. The media and most education commentators missed it.

In 1998 about 1,5million children started school. Of these only about 500000 wrote matric last year. This means that during 12 years, the schooling system lost almost a million pupils.

Yes, almost a million children who started school in 1998 dropped out before matric. We must ask President Jacob Zuma what the democratic government has done with a million of our children. We have lost these pupils under ANC rule so no need to blame apartheid.

Only about 40 percent of those who started school in 1998 wrote matric last year. So the real pass rate is a shocking 21percent as Martin Prew of the Centre for Education Policy Development said .

The pass rate could be as low as 10percent if we discount those who got 30percent and 40percent in certain subjects. Yet our democratic government says if our children do not know 60 to 70percent of a subject they have passed.

Incredible!

Further, those with university exemptions are likely to fail the first year, because they are hugely under-prepared.

Black-wash, the Soweto based youth movement, explains the crisis thus: "The reality is that even though blacks and whites are supposed to have equal opportunities, blacks in township schools have few opportunities or skills. For example, a Grade 7 pupil in a white school is more likely to have better mathematics and literacy skills than a black matriculant. So blacks fail Grade 12 because they have been systematically under-prepared since Grade 1."

As we know, 97percent of children in private schools, which is essentially a white system, have passed and of those, close to 80percent have university exemption.

These differences speak to different resource allocations, teacher preparedness, salaries and conditions of work. They also speak to the unchanged socioeconomic conditions of blacks.

We need to blame the government 100percent for the shocking state of our education. We must demand to know where the million pupils we lost in the 12 years are. We must demand that Zuma and his government declare our education system a national disaster. This means we need urgent and extraordinary intervention to correct the situation.

We need to really stop the pretence we call education. If need be, we must stop schooling for two years to sort things out.

Right now there is educational genocide for the black child. Truth is, if half the energy we put into the Fifa 2010 World Cup was focused on education we could turn the situation around within five years.

But then, again, we care more about games and jamborees than our people, so don't count on it.

Next year this time I will reissue this same column. Expect no changes in our education disaster.

I wonder how one can be positive under these circumstances.

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