The Department of Basic Education has instructed public schools to condone all Grade 7 to 9 pupils who have obtained 20% in mathematics.

The Herald reported on Wednesday that the department told schools to bypass the requirements of the national curriculum.

Newly appointed head of the Western Cape Education Department‚ Brian Schreuder‚ confirmed the directive in an interview with CapeTalk Radio.

He said the major reason for this was concerns that pupils were passing all of their other subjects but failing mathematics – a compulsory subject to pass.

“It is true that there is an adjustment that has been made for mathematics‚” he said. He explained that an education task team had recommended several years ago that the pass rate for mathematics be increased to 40% while other subject pass rates were 30%.

He said the system needed a chance to adjust to the change in promotion requirements. “It’s not fair that one cohort of learners this year suddenly have a more stringent pass rate than last year’s learners …. And so the national department of education is attempting to put in a transitionary process whereby the impact of that decision or increase of standard is phased in over a number of years with adjustment or condonation specifically for grades seven‚ eight and nine‚” he said.

The directive was the result of the department fielding complaints about pupils passing six subjects but not mathematics‚ meaning they could not progress to a FET college or Grade 10. Now those who achieved a 20% pass in mathematics would progress to the next grade.

“Mathematics is a huge problem in our society. The quality of mathematics passes‚ the number of passes is a challenge‚” said Schreuder.