South Africa: Finger-Pointing, but No Solutions for Improving Pass Rates in Poor Schools


A question on Thursday in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament about turnaround strategies to improve the quality of passing for learners from poorer schools led to a discussion that was adversarial rather than educational.

Just when Ferlon Christians from the African Christian Democratic Party asked that politics be removed from the conversation about turnaround strategies to improve the quality of passing for learners coming out of quintile 1-3 schools in the Western Cape -- the poorest of the poor, -- the ANC and the DA unsurprisingly did exactly that.

During the parliamentary sitting on Thursday afternoon, Christians asked what provincial MEC for education Debbie Schäfer and her team were going to do as a turnaround strategy to ensure matriculants from these schools pass with good marks.

"We were astonished to see we are lagging behind," said Christians of his previous visits around the province, including Laingsburg, where he noticed that there was a huge gap in the percentages of Bachelor's pass rates for schools from poorer areas and those from richer schools.

In 2018, according to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), 41,350 learners in the province passed the National Senior Certificate examinations. Of this number, there was a 42,3%...

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