SASadtu says ‘media hype’ over matric results is misplaced and short-sighted
─── 15:17 Fri, 21 Jan 2022
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) says the “media hype” around the release of the matric results, that influences the national discourse, is misplaced and short-sighted.
In a statement on Friday, reacting to the release of the 2021 matric results, the teacher union reiterated its stance that the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results were being “unnecessarily elevated into a central assessment tool for the efficiency” of the basic education sector.
Sadtu said while it noted the 76.4% pass rate of the class of 2021 with a sense of pride, the media hype around the release of the results often led to an unnecessary “beauty contest” between provincial education departments.
The union said this diverted the country’s collective attention from the real challenges in the sector.
“It is worth mentioning that provinces have differing subjective conditions, and this has a direct impact on the outcomes thereof.
“Some largely rural provinces like KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga must deal with entirely different conditions as compared to provinces like the Western Cape and Gauteng,” said Sadtu’s general secretary Mugwena Maluleke.
Maluleke said the learning journey for pupils was composed of 12 formal grades and the Early Childhood Development (ECD) phase.
He emphasised that the different phases in the sector were all equally important as part of the value chain, and more attention should also be given to the ECD phase, and not just the matric results.
“The most efficient education systems in the world have a particular focus on Early Childhood Development. The cognitive development of our learners is almost entirely dependent on the Early Childhood Development phase.
“It is our view that there should be an increased investment into this sector by ensuring that work conditions are uniform across the various provinces and that the practitioners are exposed to continuous professional development initiatives.”
Maluleke said South Africa’s education system had over the past two years been faced with extreme challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic that illuminated the “drastic inequality gap” in the sector, particularly with regards to the digital divide between the have’s and have nots.
“It should be borne in mind that during the implementation of the stricter lockdown conditions that disrupted the sector, other learners and teachers could continue with their tasks whilst the significant majority in the township and rural schools could not.
“It is our view that the glaring digital divide needs to be addressed as a matter of a national emergency.”
Sadtu called on the private sector, including telecommunications companies, to proactively invest towards the national agenda to narrow the inequalities that continue to characterise South Africa’s education system.
The union described the pass rate achieved by the class of 2021 as an incredible feat due to the challenges posed by the pandemic.
It said their achievement would “obviously be drowned down by the recent time-wasting debate by political experiments and a deliberate misrepresentation of the 30% pass requirement”.
“It is our well-considered view that the 2021 matric cohort is extraordinary and deserves to be commended because they faced unprecedented circumstances leading to their final examinations.
“We commend the class of 2021 for their resilience. They lost a significant amount of contact time with their educators in both grade 11 and 12 due to Covid-related lockdown regulations.”