An inquiry is the channel that could ultimately shut down poorly performing independent schools in Gauteng.
This comes after not a single matriculant passed at two independent schools: Rostec Technical College (high school) in Pretoria and Designated Centre Gallway in Germiston.
Both schools contributed to the decline in the pass rate in Gauteng because their matriculants wrote under the banner of the provincial education department and not an independent assessment board.
According to reports, which City Press has seen and which were compiled by the national department of basic education and the province, both schools scored a 0% pass rate.
Gauteng’s class of 2019 scored an overall 87.2% pass rate – a decline from 87.8% in 2018. It came second to the Free State, which scored an 88.4% matric pass rate, reclaiming the number one spot it lost to Gauteng in 2018.
Six matriculants sat for their final exams at Rostec, while four of their counterparts at Designated Centre Gallway wrote their finals last year. They all failed.
When City Press visited Rostec this week, a number of promotional activities were taking place at the school. Rostec offers tuition for grades 8 to 12, as well as part- and full-time programmes linked to higher education.
Rostec principal Edwin Kafureka said the six matriculants had either been progressed or promoted to write matric, and one of them had taken a gap year.
“The college management team [comprising Rostec’s board of directors] and the school management team have passed a resolution not to enrol progressed pupils in Grade 12 as full-time candidates, but rather as part-timers or modularised candidates, to avoid this bad performance,” he said.
We will not leave parents in the lurch. A consultative process will be undertaken before we shut down a school.
Steve Mabona - Gauteng Education Department Spokesperson
“The college will only accept pupils who have studied at Rostec from grades 10 to 12, so that we get enough time to understand them and advise them on their being promoted on merit.
“All full-time candidates must have been verified or granted exceptional permission by the department of basic education [to progress to matric],” Kafureka said.
He added that, in 2018, the school achieved a 100% pass rate – but only one pupil wrote matric.
When City Press arrived at Gallway, the gate was closed and phone calls to the school went unanswered.
Steve Mabona, spokesperson for the Gauteng department of education, said plans were in place to conduct an inquiry into the performance of independent schools, which could result in their being shut down.
“There is a strategy to shut them down because parents are being short-changed,” said Mabona.
“The department also pays subsidies to these schools, including for all those who scored a pass rate of less than 40%. As Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said, we will go through a process to establish how they can justify their function in our system. Parents run away from ordinary public schools, not knowing [about the poor] performance of the other schools.”
The department spent more than R731 million in subsidies for 121 047 pupils studying at independent schools over the past financial year.
This amount is set to balloon to R854 million.
According to the Gauteng education department’s report, schools that recorded a pass rate of less than 50% at the end of last year include the following:
Gauteng schools that recorded a pass rate of less than 50%
. Designated Centre Ekurhuleni North, Ekurhuleni Metro, which achieved 33.3%;
. Taal-Net Institute in Ekurhuleni North district, Ekurhuleni, which scored 46.2%;
. Space Age Independent School in Johannesburg east district, Midrand, which scored 46.2%;
. Wisdom and Knowledge College in Johannesburg south, which scored 22.9%;
. Designated Centre Vaal University of Technology in Sedibeng west district, which achieved 43.5%;
. Bophelong Community Independent School in Tshwane south district, which scored 44.4%;
. Gauteng Central College in Tshwane south district, which scored 42.3%;
. Mbowa Academy in Johannesburg south, which scored 40%; and
. Westwood Independent School in Ekurhuleni north, which scored 37.5%.
Mabona said parents would be consulted during the inquiry, adding that if the department decided to close down some of these schools in the middle of the academic year, pupils would be moved elsewhere.
“We will not leave parents in the lurch,” he said. “A consultative process will be undertaken before we shut down a school.”
Mabona declined to comment about whether any fraudulent activities were associated with how independent schools had been registered in the education system.
He said these schools were granted licences after demonstrating compliance with registration and monitoring procedures.
These procedures included meeting occupational health and safety standards, Mabona said, as well as complying with the provision that schools could sustain themselves financially for a year before subsidies were paid by the education department.