DBE sets record straight on 20% Maths pass reports

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has set the record straight on inaccurate media reports that claim the Maths pass mark has been dropped to 20%.

The reports state that learners in the senior phase (grade 7 � 9) may be promoted to the next grade within this phase if they get 20% in Mathematics.

There is no such thing as a 20% pass mark for Mathematics and there has been no change in the progression policy to reflect such.

Most people who are familiar with the South African education system will recall that if you failed a language, you would fail the year. You could fail Mathematics and still pass the year if you passed your languages with above 40% and all of your other subjects.

With the introduction of CAPS [Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement] in 2014, this changed. The DBE raised the bar in terms of the pass criteria. Now in addition to passing your two language subjects, you have to pass your home language at 50% and you have to pass Mathematics.

In essence, what the policy states is that even if you pass all of your other subjects with distinctions, but got less than 40% for Mathematics, you failed the year, said the department in a statement on Friday.

The department said it is cognizant that Maths is not every learner’s strong suit.

We are all aware that not everyone is mathematically inclined. Some people are more inclined towards the arts, others are better with technical subjects – making this policy unfair to those who are forced to take Mathematics but are not good at it.

The choice to do Mathematics or Mathematics Literacy comes in at the grade 10 level, meaning it is compulsory for learners who are in grade 7, 8 and 9 to do pure Mathematics.

It said it has taken note of concerns around the suitability of the policy, which were raised with the DBE by school principals and Provincial Education Departments. The DBE has now decided to take the policy under review.

The concern was that learners who could go to the next grade, based on meeting all other pass criteria, were being held back in the grade unnecessarily. It has been shown that grade repetition can lead to increased school dropout, increased truancy and a number of other adverse effects.

While the policy is under review, a decision was taken to condone those who did not meet the 40% criteria in Mathematics to the next grade if they met all other pass requirements and obtained more than 20% in Mathematics, the department explained.

It stressed, however, that this decision is only applicable to senior phase learners and only applicable for the 2016 group of learners while the policy is being reviewed.

Source: South African Government News Agency