Task team urges matric shake up

Johannesburg - The recommendations of a ministerial task team on the way matrics are taught and tested could set in motion a major shakeup of our education system, reports the Sunday Times.

According to the newspaper, the national senior certificate task team has not yet made its results public but have handed their report over to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

The task team is believed to have recommended major changes including raising university entrance standards, dropping life orientation classes, raising the matric pass mark to at least 40% in three subjects and making maths a compulsory subject at all schools.

Teachers have also come under the spotlight, with the task team making sweeping recommendations that include teachers who moderate the final matric exam must be appointed using stricter criteria; that teachers marking final exams papers must have the necessary qualifications and expertise and that the way schools award marks during the year must be monitored so that standards can be universally maintained.

The report also suggested sweeping changes to matric maths and maths literacy – with the recommendation that maths be offered at all schools.

The report, drawn up by education academics, has been handed over to the minister but still needs to be put to education union Sadtu, which in the past has been a stumbling block regarding education reform.

Maths teachers fail

This follows the recent findings that matric maths teachers in KwaZuluj-Natal performed dismally when tested with a past matric maths paper, as reported by SAPA.

Research was carried out with 253 teachers in the province to investigate their knowledge of the subject they are teaching.

Teachers got an average mark of 57%, and a quarter of them got below 39%.

The research was published in the "Perspectives in Education Journal" in March and authored by Thokozani Mkhwanazi and Sarah Bansilal from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and Deonarain Brijlall from the Durban University of Technology.

The difficulty of questions in a maths exam is broken down into four levels, with level four being the most challenging.

The teachers who wrote the test managed an average of 26% on level four questions, which made researchers question how they could be teaching their pupils.

"The results of this study raise concerns about the teaching of maths by (Grade 10 to 12) teachers whose knowledge is so poor," the researchers were quoted as saying.