The chief executive of the country’s Grade 12 examinations quality assurance body has dismissed criticism of the quality of our matric certificate, saying the National Senior Certificate (NSC) is the envy of neighbouring countries.
Speaking to City Press last month while exam marking was still under way, Umalusi boss Mafu Rakometsi said that, although many South Africans considered the education system to be one of the worst in the world, he had been approached by representatives from unnamed neighbouring countries who said their students struggled to cope at higher education institutions overseas, while South Africa’s matriculants succeeded.
He conceded that there were problems, including the performance of principals and teachers of schools that did not do well in last year’s exams. He said the education system and the curriculum was not the problem at underperforming schools. Instead, he said, it was the quality of support pupils received.
Underperforming schools failed to finish tasks within the allocated teaching time.
“We need to have pupils and teachers in school rather than going to class when they please. If teachers take their jobs seriously, are prepared and are in class on time – and not there to discuss soccer – pupils will take them seriously because they know they will gain something from their teachers,” he said.
School principals should take responsibility for what happened in their schools, because a school was only as good as its principal and teachers.
Pupils, he said, took their cue from their teachers, who in turn took theirs from their principals.
During his teaching days at Rearabetswe Senior Secondary School in Odendaalsrus, Free State, he said he would get to his classes on time – and so would his pupils.
An accomplished administrator, Rakometsi (56) went on to become a university lecturer and later the superintendent-general of the Free State education department.
He said teachers who failed to arrive for classes and who didn’t prepare their lessons were jeopardising the country’s future.
“When teaching children [well], you show that you are patriotic; you care about the country. Pupils give you their time. I care about the future of this country. When you aren’t patriotic, you don’t care,” he said, adding that there were some teachers who put their unions ahead of their jobs.