The pass mark is actually 30% for all subjects except English which is 40%. Which is shocking in all respects.
I tell my students to ignore the government mark because they are all too amazing to aim so low and that the pass rate in our classes is always 50% because at the end of the day that still means you've got half the stuff wrong.
However, when we analyse results - a child cannot pass the grade if they have 30% in all subjects and 40% in English.
If they have more than 2 30% marks out of their 7 subjects then they technically fail the term or grade.
What happens quite often though is that kids get "passed with support" meaning a free pass into the next grade even if they didn't meet the criteria. This could happen in Grade 10 and 11 and then all of a sudden people are wondering why school didn't get 100% pass rate at matric.
In general what I see in education at a national, provincial and local scale is an absolute lack of any joined- up and systematic thinking and no forward planning whatsoever. The standard of communication is awful with people still just announcing things like meetings or deadlines at a whim and then changing things last minute.
There is always talk of systems and policies but then micro-management due to lack of skill in actual management takes over.
The standard of the NCS questions papers was pretty bad - terribly worded questions and sources of statistics, data and images were just labelled with "Source: Google" I marked Matric exams for WCED last year and all of our feedback and evaluation was recorded but we were told by centre managers that markers have been saying the same things for years.
The mediocrity is top-down everywhere.
The new CAPS system is better, the resources available are significantly better but the schools, the principals and many teachers are not moving on with it.
The pass mark hasn't changed with the new system but the level of learning is higher in that the content that was in Grade 12 is now in Grade 11 so hopefully eventually matrics will leave with a slightly higher level of understanding. The only problem is because technically content has got more difficult then matric marks may slide as school adjust to the new system.
I think the major problem is that teachers are not treated, considered or paid as professionals here. It's been a major adjustment for me coming from the UK. As a result - many do not act or conduct themselves as professionals either and I am sometimes amazed at teacher's attitudes towards their subjects and learners. The other problem is teacher training is not subject specific so most teachers are not specialists in the subject they teach - for me the passion you have for that particular subject is what fuels your need to help other people understand and achieve in it.
I often think of my school's front gate as a time machine where I get transported back in time.
That felt like therapy!!