South Africa: Department launches investigation into matric Business Studies scores

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THE Department of Basic Education is investigating how the scores of last year’s Business Studies matric pupils dropped dramatically in the final examinations. Photo: File

Sne Masuku

THE Department of Basic Education is investigating how the scores of last year’s Business Studies matric pupils dropped dramatically in the final examinations.

While the department said it was not convinced that the complaints received were a national concern, as it believed the claims “come from certain groups and not everywhere else in the country,” the claims would be investigated.

The investigation comes after a Durban North principal conducted his own investigation and reported a “shocking drop” in Business Studies marks in the matric final exams.

Realising it would affect scores of matriculants’ entry into university, he called for the department to immediately review the results and for affected pupils to receive their correct results.

Nationally, the pass rate for the 192139 pupils who wrote Business Studies was 64.9%; in KwaZulu-Natal 59.5% of the 51588 matriculants who wrote the subject passed.

To qualify for a Bachelor’s pass, a requirement to enter university, pupils need to have passed all their subjects, but the affected pupils achieved 20% passes in the finals, although they had achieved 70% and above in their school-based assessments.

After a complaint by the principal of Oakridge College, Durban North, the DA also called for an urgent review of marking of last year’s Business Studies exam.

The SA Teachers’ Union brought the concerns of schools in KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng to the attention of the department.

The union threatened legal action should the department fail to divulge information regarding the marking processes, the adjustment of marks and incorporation of the school-based assessment marks.

Last week AfriForum held a meeting in Centurion to seek answers as to why thousands of pupils had performed poorly in Business Studies.

A source told the Daily News yesterday that teachers who had not studied the subject, had not taught the subject at matric level, and had never marked the subject before had been appointed as markers.

The source claimed that some markers who had been doing the job for more than 10 years were not appointed.

The department said it would investigate claims by DA spokesperson on Education, Nomsa Marchesi, that markers did not have the requisite qualification or experience, and allegations concerning the conversion of marks during the data capture process.

Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said they would also investigate why these claims come from “certain groups” and not everywhere else in the country, and give feedback at the right time.

“We have received a letter that reads almost the same as the one we got from the DA. What we find interesting is that the complaints come mainly from a certain group of people representing a certain section of society.

“In these letters, the authors say the concerns regarding the paper have come from ‘countrywide’ ,but in our engagement with districts and schools we have not come across this particular issue,” he said. “We take it seriously and at the right time we will make our public standpoint,” he said.

While the investigations would get under way, some of the affected candidates already accepted at universities told the Daily News yesterday they were left with no choice but to apply for re-marking, because they feared the investigation would take long.

The closing date for re-marking was Friday, January 18.

They would have to wait until April to see if there would be any change in their marks. By then, it would be well into the end of the first trimester of the year and they would have lost their places, sponsors and bursaries.

In 2017, Mvelo Lusiba from Velabahleke High School lost his university sponsorship after the department bungled his maths mark.

As per his original NSC results sheet, he had obtained eight distinctions and 67% for maths. Knowing he was a top pupil, his principal took him to the department offices in Durban, where it was found that he had in fact got 93% for maths.

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