SECTION27 says it does not support the proposed move by the Department of Education to lower the minimum mark required to progress in the senior phase – grades 7‚ 8 and 9.
“Our position is that these proposed changes have the potential to lower the quality of education in South Africa by lowering the pass mark for promotion to the next grade. We note that promotion should be based on the acquisition of knowledge skills that are necessary for learners to progress and thrive within South African Society.
“We further argue that these proposed changes are not in accordance with South Africa’s obligations under international law and in terms of Section 29(1)(a) of the Constitution which guarantees every learner the right to a quality education. Further to this the World Declaration on Education for All which was adopted in 1990 emphasises the acquisition of basic learning tools necessary for an individual to realise his or her full potential‚” SECTION27 said on Monday.
On February 23‚ the Department of Basic gazetted for public comment its intention to lower the minimum mark required to progress in the senior phase – Grades 7‚ 8 and 9.
Currently‚ these learners do not move to the next grade if they get below 50% for their home language.
However‚ the department now wants this home language threshold reduced to 40%. It proposes that pupils should pass if they get 40% in their mother tongue and three other subjects.
And‚ for the first time‚ achieving 30% in three subjects in the grades would see learners moving to the next grade.
Section27 totally rejects this move.
“Education is both a human right in itself and an indispensable means of realising other human rights. As an empowerment right‚ education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalised adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities.
“If the proposed amendments are approved it is our view that learners may be ill-equipped for the higher education system but also as productive members of South African society as they will not possess the necessary skills and knowledge needed for the job market‚” the organisation said.
Education expert Mary Metcalfe said the country should have a consultation process on solving the problems at foundation phase. These‚ she said‚ were the reasons pupils struggle to pass at high school‚ leading to pupils dropping out of school.