Education minister explains South Africa’s 20% maths pass rate

Speaking at a keynote address in Centurion on Monday, Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga finally clarified her reasoning behind the “20% maths pass rate” and warned South Africans against falling into trap of making maths the “be-all and end-all” of education system.

This follows an executive decision made by Motshekga at the end of 2016, which would allow Grade 7, 8 and 9 pupils in South Africa to obtain as little as 20% in mathematics and still progress to the next year of learning.

“I can assure South Africans that nobody of sane mind can argue against the importance of mathematics education‚ or mathematics and science-based careers,” said Motshekga.

“In all honesty‚ we came to the policy decision to let thousands of learners progress to the next grade without having passed mathematics, because the effects of grade repetition are dire.”

She noted that the Basic Education Department used scientific research when deciding to lower the pass rate, stating that when repeating a grade, pupils would lose interest‚ drop out‚ become problematic‚ and “act out”.

Motshekga also noted that the decision was once-off and was unlikely to happen again.

“We are alive to the fact that grade repetition enormously increases inefficiencies in the system as a whole. In short, there are no 20 percent promotional requirements anywhere in our system”.

Read: Why South African schools had no choice but to drop maths pass mark

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Education minister explains South Africa’s 20% maths pass rate