25% of matric subjects still don’t pass the quality test

Today’s announcement of matric mark adjustments by Umalusi has again raised questions about the management of the  exams.

Of the 67 subjects considered for the Department of Basic Education (DBE) matric exams, 17 had their marks adjusted upwards – one more than last year.

This means a quarter of all DBE subjects still have their marks adjusted upwards. This continuing trend raises some serious questions.

DBE NSC subject adjustments (2012-2018)

Year Total subjects Total adjusted Adjusted upwards Adjusted downwards
2012   61   17   4   13
2013   62   15   2   13
2014   58   23   13   10
2015   59   30   29   1
2016   58   32   28   4
2017   58   20   16   4
2018   67   28   17   11


Unfortunately, we have no idea how large these adjustments are. Umalusi hides this information from the public, and refuses to allow elected Members of Parliament to attend the standardisation meeting. Anyone who questions these adjustments is accused of attempting to disrupt the process and attack the school system, simply for asking for clarity.

Protecting the quality of the matric certificate is vital to ensuring that young South Africans can study further or secure a job after school. The DA will continue to seek greater transparency so that learners and their parents can feel secure in their matric qualification.

The DA congratulates all learners who accepted the challenge of writing the exams, and wishes the matrics all the best for the announcement of the results next week.

Matric 2017: Upward adjustments must be explained

Umalusi has today announced their adjustments to the matric results: out of 58 subjects written this year, 20 had their marks adjusted (16 upwards and 4 downwards).
Last year, the DA as well as education experts raised the alarm about the number and size of the upward adjustments. While we are pleased to hear that fewer subjects were adjusted, we are concerned that Umalusi has felt the need to block MPs from attending this year’s standardisation meeting to avoid anyone asking questions about these adjustments.
As such, we do not know how big the adjustments were, and what the justification for making them was. We will submit written questions in the New Year to determine the size of the adjustments, and what the reasons for these changes are.
Marks should be adjusted when an exam paper was significantly more or less difficult than in previous years. However, Umalusi and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) have resisted answering questions about the adjustments that are being made to matric marks.
The need for continuing upward adjustments suggests there is a very serious problem somewhere in the schooling system that must be identified and addressed, particularly as it is a trend over a number of years.

Year Total subjects Total adjusted Adjusted upwards Adjusted downwards
2012 61 17 4 13
2013 62 15 2 13
2014 58 23 13 10
2015 59 30 29 1
2016 58 32 28 4
2017 58 20 16 4

Until the DBE admits that there is a problem, no steps can be taken to identify and solve it. Sticking our head in the sand won’t improve the quality of the basic education our learners receive.

Umalusi blocks oversight of standardisation meeting on Matric 2017 results

The DA wrote to the quality assurance body, Umalusi, to request an invitation to the annual standardisation meeting on the Matric results 2017, but have been denied access to this vital meeting. Umalusi CEO, Dr Mafu Ramoketsi, even went as far as demanding that we do not contact him directly but that any communication with Umalusi take place through the Minister of Basic Education.
Our MPs have a constitutional obligation to conduct oversight and will, therefore, communicate with any public entity.
Moreover, the entire Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has been denied access, despite this having been the practice in previous years, and it appears to be a move aimed at preventing MPs from carrying out their constitutional duty of oversight.
Umalusi holds a statistical moderation stakeholder meeting that occurs just before Christmas for each year of matric results.
The DA has therefore written to Dr Ramoketsi, asking him to revise his position on the matter – his current refusal is completely at odds with Umalusi’s stated commitment to transparency.
We have also written to the Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Nomalungelo Gina, to ask her to intervene and ensure that sufficient oversight of this very important process takes place.
Umalusi is a public entity that falls under the Department of Basic Education and its refusal to allow oversight sets a terrible example for other public entities.
They have claimed this is because their reports to Parliament are sufficient to satisfy oversight requirements, and that anything further than that will threaten a separation of powers – a dramatic turnaround from previous years.
Public entities are subject to oversight by public representatives because citizens have a vested interest in their work – it is not up to a public entity to determine what constitutes official oversight.
Last year, the DA asked completely legitimate questions about the number of subjects that had their average marks adjusted upwards during the standardisation process. We believe this points to a problem somewhere in the education system and that a clear explanation of the need for these adjustments should be presented.
South African matric learners and their parents must have confidence in their results and qualifications – and in order to do so, their elected representatives must be free to fulfil their oversight role. We call on Umalusi to rethink their decision not to invite MPs to the standardisation meeting for the sake of our matriculants.

DA to request invitation to Matric standardisation meeting from Umalusi

The DA would like to wish all matriculants well as they write their last exam tomorrow. We congratulate them for all their hard work and hope that it will pay off come the release of their results.
Thousands of matric papers will soon be marked and moderated, culminating in the standardisation process by Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training body, Umalusi.
Standardisation is the process by which the results of subjects are moderated and adjusted through a mathematical model to ensure consistency in examination levels and the best possible results for learners given any errors there might be in question papers.
This process has a meaningful impact on the matric pass rate and therefore, it is in the public interest that the meeting, to be held shortly before Christmas, in which the adjustments are discussed and explained, is open and transparent.
It is standard practice that the Basic Education Portfolio Committee be invited to the annual meeting. This year, however, there has been no invitation extended.
The DA will therefore write to Umalusi to formally request that our MPs are invited to the meeting. MPs are constitutionally obligated to perform oversight and they should be given the opportunity to carry out this important duty by being allowed to attend the meeting.
Umalusi has committed to “making its processes transparent to all who have an interest in the examinations [it] quality assures” and we believe they must show this by making the meeting publicly accessible – it should be opened up to the DA and the media. This will ensure matriculants, their parents and key stakeholders are confident in the qualifications our matriculants obtain.
Last year, 32 out of 58 subjects had their marks adjusted upwards during the standardisation process – which suggests that there is some problem in the system since exam papers were checked and moderated before writing
By opening up the standardisation meeting, Umalusi will give the public an honest and accurate reflection of matriculants’ performance.
It will allow us to identify weaknesses in the education system so that necessary improvements can be made and we call on Umalusi to do the right thing by ensuring the standardisation process is inclusive.