Equal Education (EE) has called on the Basic Education Department to ensure schools have proper infrastructure, basic services and a functional nutrition programme to assist the class of 2021 to excel in this academic year.

EE’s general secretary, Noncedo Madubedube, says, “When learners and members of EE talk to us about the things that are hindering progress in the education system, they talk to us about water and sanitation, they want running water in these schools on a daily basis. They would like the provision of scholar transport.”

“So they don’t have to walk more than 5kms to go to school. We would like on-going support around the school nutrition programme. What we want is commitment from districts and provinces to ensure that learners can eat even on the days that they aren’t in school. To make sure that while the government is prioritising COVID-19 compliance and physical distancing in classrooms, kids are able to eat. These are the economic things that are most important in the context of our own country,” explains Madubedube.

The organisation’s remarks comes a day after Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, announced that the class of 2020 achieved a matric pass rate of 76.2%.

She says despite the national pass rate dropping below 80% – it was better than expected following disruptions to the academic calendar amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Minister Motshekga announces the 2020 National Senior Certificate results:

Pass rate welcomed

The matric pass rate has been widely welcomed, with the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) commending educators for their resilience and perseverance in ensuring that the class of 2020 were equipped for their matric exams.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke, says those who did not pass matric must not despair.

“We should bow to the teachers for being able to bring the learners back to school and doing everything they could, as always, to ensure learners’ resilience and building the education system. I want to congratulate all of them, and also those who didn’t make it because the great achievement is they have been able to write.”

“The greatest mistake they can make is not to try again. They have travelled the 12 years of this journey which is a great achievement,” explains Maluleke.

‘Better than was initially expected’

The South African Teachers’ Union (SAOU) says the pass rate is better than what was initially expected.

Union executive officer, Chris Klopper,  says monuments should be erected for the teachers who performed beyond the call of duty to prepare learners and provide them with the necessary confidence to enter the exam rooms, despite the pandemic.

He, however, raised concern about the decreasing numbers in learners taking accountancy and maths.

“We are concerned about the following subjects, accountancy that the number of learners are down, only 95 000 learners wrote accountancy. Maths the number of candidates are down by 15 000 learners, and physical science the number of learners are also down by about 7 000.”

Breakdown of 2020 results: