Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga CREDIT: Oupa Mokoe

These proposals are to align pass requirements with those of grades 10 to 12.

When pass marks were introduced for grades 10 to 12 in 2014, those for lower grades were not adjusted, department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said, and that had had an adverse affect on pupils.

Pass requirements for grades 10 to 12 are: 40% in three subjects, one of which is an official language at home language level; and 30% in three subjects.

The proposed amendments, for grades 7 to 9, are:

Pass four subjects at 40%, one of which is a home language;

Pass any other four subjects at 30%; 

And math removed as a compulsory promotion requirement.

“It is considered necessary, having observed the negative impact of the compulsory pass requirement of maths at 40% and (home) language at 50%, to consider amending policy and regulations in order to respond to the challenges and the unintended consequences brought about by the new programme and promotion requirements,” Mhlanga said.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the education department must also examine the effect this would have on pupils who want to study further.

Sadtu will study the new proposed amendments, and make recommendations, he said.

“Promotion requirements must not only be looked at from a statistical point, but also consider the skills and lessons pupils learn; pass-rate quality is very important,” Maluleke said.