Sizwe Mchunu, MPL
Leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature
The DA will demand that all KZN matric markers are tested in their relevant subject areas after a recent study revealed that a sample group of 253 matric maths teachers in the province achieved an average mark of just 57% when given a past maths paper to complete.
The study, authored by UKZN and DUT academics, published in the Perspectives in Education Journal in March, was conducted to assess teachers’ knowledge of the maths they were teaching. Apart from the average of 57 percent, the study also showed that half the group sampled achieved a mark below 61 percent, with a quarter getting below 39 percent.
Last year KZN’s matric maths pass rate was 53.6 percent. The question is – how can learners possibly achieve great things when their teachers do not have the skills needed to teach the subject? The upshot of this situation is a vicious cycle of mediocrity exacerbated by a pass rate of only 30%.
This sad scenario is the result of ongoing poor leadership within the provincial education department. Teacher competence is a grassroots issue. If KZN’s education department has any hope of fulfilling its mandate in terms of the PGDP then teachers must be properly trained and given the tools they need.
The DA in the Western Cape started a programme a number of years ago which sees all matric markers assessed for competency on the subjects that they mark. This is an excellent initiative which weeds out anyone who is not up to scratch and ensures that learners are not compromised. Yet the KZN education department continues to bow to union pressure and refuses to implement it.
The National Development Plan (NDP) puts education as its first priority. But without teachers who can teach, it is not worth the paper it is written on.
The DA expects KZN Education MEC Nkoneyni to announce the implementation of marker competency tests. Critically, we also need to see a plan aimed at improving teacher competency and restoring credibility to the profession. The future of millions of young people is at stake.