The Basic Education department reportedly seeks to lower the minimum mark required to progress in the senior phase - Grades 7, 8 and 9.
As it stands, the Grade 7, 8 and 9 learners who receive below 50% for their home language are not progressed to the next grade.
Apparently, the department now wants this home language threshold reduced to 40%.
Meaning that pupils who get 40% in their mother tongue and three other subjects will progress onto their next grade.
According to an IOL reporter, "for the first time, achieving 30% in three subjects in the grades would see learners moving to the next grade."
The public has 21 days to comment on these proposals, which were published in the government gazette on Friday.
In 2017 the department was met with outrage when they instructed public schools to pass those with just 20% in mathematics. They stated that pupils who passed all other subjects, but failed Mathematics with a minimum mark of 20%, would be "condoned" and "would thus pass Mathematics and pass the examination as a whole".
Department of Basic Education spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, told The Star on Monday that they aimed to "align promotion requirements in the entire secondary school level."
Mhlanga denied that the department was lowering the standards of public education.
“We’re not saying learners should now feel free to get the lowest possible. We’re saying this should be the minimum, but those who have goals in their lives will still work hard at achieving 100%.”
Mhlanga said the pass requirements could change again in future. “The decision whether to take them up will be taken once there’s uniformity in secondary school in general.”
General secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers Union, Mugwena Maluleke, said their organization was worried by a pattern of lowering requirements in the public school system and how it would hurt the matriculants as the progress into university.
“The quality of the content at university will be challenging for these particular learners precisely because we’ve undermined them.”
The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) deputy president, Allan Thompson, offered an alternative solution against the department's proposal.
“We’re saying instead of lowering the pass requirements, you need to increase the number of teachers in the classroom and reduce the class size,” he chipped in.