Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has defended the department’s decision to allow struggling pupils who get at least 20% for mathematics to progress to the next grade.
“We were reverting to the old policy to say if you have passed all your subjects, you don’t have to necessarily pass maths as a condition to go to Grade 10, because to move from Grade 9 to 10 you don’t have to pass 100%, you are allowed to fail one [subject],” she said on Thursday.
Motshekga was speaking at an awards ceremony in Daveyton, where Gauteng’s top achievers were revealed.
She said the policy had always been there. However, a pupil was not allowed to progress to Grade 10 if they had failed to pass maths.
Her ministry amended the policy so that pupils who would not be carrying mathematics into Grade 10 would be granted leeway with this 20% “advancement mark”.
However, this was only on condition that pupils had passed all other remaining subjects, she said.
News of the adjusted advancement mark in December caused an outcry countrywide. Many criticised Motshekga and the department’s decision.
The department issued a circular to schools announcing advancement to the next grade for pupils in Grades 7, 8 and 9 who got at least 20% in Maths.
Amid the outcry, a three-day maths indaba was held at the department’s headquarters where experts were invited to provide input on how the country could better improve teaching and learning of mathematics.
This would be used to draft a framework to try and improve results in the subject.
Motshekga told City Press at the time that it was a coincidence that the indaba was being held as the country was still grappling with the matter of advancement of pupils.
She said the indaba had been initially planned for September, but it was rescheduled pending the results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study to help analyse these with experts, the newspaper reported.
She had reiterated the department’s position that the 20% advancement mark was not a pass rate.
“People are just not listening and they have preconceived views, which I think are formed by some trust deficit.”
She said the announcement was an error in policy that schools had been raising. It was being corrected to help them deal with promotions for 2017.
“It has nothing to do with this indaba,” she told City Press.