New “Standardised” Matric Exam for SA

SA’s education minister, Naledi Pandor, does it again. That is, she would press all schoolgoers into exactly the same mould. But instead of having them robotically recite a pledge of allegiance en masse, this time she evidently thinks that the complete spectrum of school pupils’ academic ability is quite narrow – narrow enough to eliminate the “standard” and “higher” grade distinction, one that in my view is already way too coarse. From this year onward, all matric candidates across the country will write exactly the same final examinations.

I must confess to being more than a little leery of the claim that “SA children will benefit” from the change. The whole enterprise, in fact, has the same suspect flavour as would the expectation that all schoolchildren in a given grade are to play hockey or rugby or netball at the same level of expertise. The better players will be kept behind, while the weaker ones will be left behind, all for the sake of feeding a government minister’s delusion that children’s academic abilities are mostly equal, and a concurrent doomed-to-fail social experiment predicated on little more than the volatile sensitivities surrounding any suggestions that discrimination might be afoot.


This follows confirmation this week by the education minister, Naledi Pandor, that this year all pupils will, for the first time, be writing papers at the equivalent of higher grade in all subjects.
Well at least the standard is going up and not down... And it looks like it does not come as a total surprise to teachers and pupils.
Maine said matriculants had been following the new curriculum since grade 10 and their teachers had been attending training courses to help them get up to speed with teaching it.

No doubt with a higher standard, some pupils will not make it, and surely the pass rate will come down. But what use is a substandard qualification to anyone.
But I agree with 'Luthon. Not everyone will fit into this one standard. Pupils with other needs might well fall to the wayside. I know too little about the current curriculum to know whether they will be catered for.

Part of the problem I have with this change is that I am not at all convinced of the claim that the exam papers will be “at the equivalent of higher grade in all subjects.” Elsewhere, the report states that “the matric exam papers would now be a combination of the higher and standard grades,” which seems to contradict the first claim.

As already intimated, I am quite suspicious that this is rather more a piece of political hocus-pocus than a policy that is genuinely driven by SA’s children’s best interests. We’re happy to live with the observation that some people are exceptionally good swimmers, most are average and some are poor performers at the sport. Moreover, we don’t feel any twinges of conscience when those who show a talent for swimming are picked out for special training programmes, and they then go on to compete at provincial, national and international levels. Why, then, insist against all evidence that it is different for academic ability? Especially when it is realised that education is among the most important things we can bestow on our children.

The implication is that we are so incapacitated by an irrational fear of being seen to differentiate along lines of intellectual capability that we’d rather serve up a homogeneous stew of mediocrity than acknowledge both that aptitude is to be nurtured and that inability deserves special provisions.


Next we’ll get a “Pass one, pass all” policy. That will “level the playing field” and when some backward country overtake us the powers that be might realise that life is not fair. Or more likely, they will think up some other excuse.