25 November 2014
SAIPA welcomes tougher pass requirements for grades 7-9 and calls for an increased pass threshold for matric
The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) has welcomed government’s decision to raise pass requirements for grades 7, 8 and 9. SAIPA says the move will improve the quality of learners entering the Further Education and Training phase, thus enhancing the quality of Grade 12 learners. The spin-off of this initiative will be quality learners entering tertiary education, resulting in more graduates who will help plug the serious skills gap that is currently at over 800 000 vacancies in the private sector.
“The accounting profession alone needs in excess of 20 000 accountants – a target that we’ve been struggling to meet, given the quality of matriculants who are being produced by the school system,” says Faith Ngwenya, SAIPA’s Technical and Standards Executive. “By raising the bar in the senior phase, the throughput of students to grades 10 to 12 is likely to be more solid, which will mean improved results and a better quality matric,” she says.
Ngwenya says the move to increase the pass requirement for a learner’s home language to 50% signals a commitment by the Department of Education to producing better quality graduates. “We hope that in future the Department will raise the pass threshold for matriculants as well, as the current pass mark is far too low for the financial sector.”
According to SAIPA, from the financial sector perspective the relevant pass mark is 50% – a mark advocated as a general threshold to pass matric, particularly given its importance in the academic context. Most professionals in the financial sector require some university degree, and entrance into a Bachelor’s degrees in the sciences, engineering and commerce – fields in which the country experiences shortages of skills – requires a pass mark of at least 50%.
“High schools should equip learners with the skills needed to enter tertiary education, while other secondary school branches should be considered for learners who will most likely not aspire to a university degree, but still need a solid education that prepares them for their professional lives,” she says. “Streamlining the education system in this way could increase the quality of education as it makes it easier to gear the learners towards their future careers, whether in an academic environment, a trade, in business or as an entrepreneur.”
Cognitive and analytical skills
Furthermore, SAIPA says that simply raising pass requirements will not automatically result in matriculants who are ready to study further in preparation for entering the financial sector.
“For this to happen, we need focused teaching that encourages learners to attain cognitive and analytical skills, the greatest lack of which we’ve seen in a number of learners entering tertiary education; the outcry is even greater for learners from non-urban areas,” Ngwenya says.
In particular, she highlights that mathematical and analytical skills are critical to becoming successful as an entrepreneur or small business owner. “These skills are in fact the key to reducing unemployment and creating jobs as they help an entrepreneur assess the relevant markets as well as understand and manage the financial side of the business.”