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DBE clarifies reports on minimum pass requirements


The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is disappointed in the misleading media reports regarding the minimum promotion requirements in the schooling system. It wishes to set the record straight.
In its statement, the DBE said the original article, which appeared in Rapport (2 July 2017, Nòg ‘n verlaging van slaagpunte ‘beledig jonges’) and subsequently published in (2 July, Government wants to drop pass marks in school even further) is riddled with errors, is confusing and vague.

“It seems the journalist did not have sufficient information or did not fully understand the issue under discussion. If only the journalist had sought assistance to clarify issues she did not understand, we would have gladly assisted.

“One glaring error in the article (in Rapport) refers to purported changes to be made in promotion requirements in Grade 10 and 11. The truth is, there is no such changes being made nor anticipated or being discussed.”

The facts

The Task Team established by the Minister of Education in 2009, to investigate poor curriculum implementation in schools recommended, among other things, changes to the programme and promotion requirements, in the Foundation, Intermediate and Senior Phase.

The National Curriculum Statement, Grades R-12 was approved as National Policy and published in the Government Gazette 34600, Notices 722 and 723 of 12 September 2011, and it contained the new promotion and progression requirements

The new promotion requirements are not aligned with the National Senior Certificate (NSC) promotion requirements, which is the national benchmark. Hence, there is a need to align the promotion requirements across the Foundation, Intermediate and Senior Phase with the FET band.

The Department has been monitoring the implementation of the new requirements in provinces. It was apparent from the 2014 mid-year performance, that the new promotion requirements were adversely affecting the performance of learners at school level.

To minimise the impact of the higher promotion requirements in the Senior Phase, the DBE issued National Assessment Circular 3 of 2015 to allow for the adjustment of marks and in 2016, given the adverse impact of the compulsory pass requirement of Mathematics at 40%, a special condonation dispensation for Mathematics was applied. Based on National Assessment Circular 3 of 2016, learners who passed all other subjects, but failed Mathematics with a minimum mark of 20%, were condoned and would thus pass Mathematics and pass the examination as a whole

It is therefore considered necessary, having observed the negative impact of the compulsory pass requirement of Mathematics at 40% and Language (Home Language), at 50%, to consider amending policy and regulations in order to respond to the challenges and the unintended consequences brought about by the new programme and promotion requirements.

Consultative process over proposals

In view of the above observations, the Department will embark on a broad consultation process with educationists, assessment experts, higher education institutions, parents and members of the public, on the amendments to the Foundation, Intermediate and Senior Phase promotion requirements.

The proposal that will be consulted relating to the Senior Phase, include the following:

  1. Pass four subjects at 40%, one of which is a Home Language;
  2. Pass any other four subjects at 30%; and
  3. Mathematics removed as a compulsory promotion requirement.

The above proposal is aligned to the current requirements in the FET band.

Once discussed internally and externally, approved and promulgated the relevant policy and curriculum changes will be communicated to all relevant stakeholder bodies by means of official curriculum and examination circulars. At this point, this is merely an issue for internal discussion and broader public consultation.


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