NEWS & ANALYSIS

2014 matric pass rate drops back to 75,8% - Angie Motshekga

Minister says Gauteng the best performing province, followed by North West, Free State, then the WCape

Speech delivered at the Announcement of the 2014 NSC Examinations Results by Mrs Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education, Auckland Park, January 5 2014

Deputy Minister!

Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee Chairperson and Members of the Select Committee on Education and Recreation

Acting Chairperson of the SABC Board, Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe

SABC COO Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng,

Members of the Executive Councils,

Acting Director-General and Heads of Education Departments, Representatives of Education Formations and Stakeholders, Top Performing Learners and their Parents and Grandparents, Fellow South Africans Good evening!

The year 2014 is the watershed year as it marked the completion of the implementation of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) throughout the education system.

It is a year when the first cohort of Grade 12 learners wrote the CAPS-aligned final examinations for the National Senior Certificate.

CAPS came into being as a response to a host of concerns  raised by stakeholders in education regarding amongst others,  the administrative burden and lack of clarity in what has to be taught, how it is to be assessed and generally the general approach to  the Outcomes Based Education ( The work of the Ministerial Task Team appointed in 2009 led to the introduction of CAPS.

Essentially CAPS is the strengthening of the National Curriculum Statement and clearly specifies what should be taught, which topics should be covered per subject, grade, and per quarter of the school calendar year. It also provides guidelines on how assessment must be carried out including adding more content to some subject such Mathematics and Business Studies. In some instances certain aspects were replaced by others.

CAPs also increased the cognitive rigour and demand into the curriculum. Chapter 4 in the CAPS documents has been dedicated as part of the design elements of the curriculum to re-engineer assessment to form the core of the curriculum.

This philosophy is based on the deliberate intention to increase high order questions across all subjects over time and to drive quality. As a consequence examiners introduced these elements during the 2014 examinations.

Already in 2014 with these changes for the first time we have increased the pass requirements for Grade 7, 8 and 9. Learners are now required to pass 8 of the 9 subjects on offer. Following the recommendations made by the Ministerial committee on pass requirements, led by Professor Brian Cornwell, in December I also announced that the pass mark for Grade 12 will be increased as part of our effort to continue to bring quality to our education will provide more details later.

We are very mindful of the fact that change no matter how well intended and small it might be, brings about uncertainty and instability in the system but unfortunately in our quest to continuously bring the necessary quality improvements, this has to be done. We are conscious of the fact that  teachers, learners, examiners, and moderation panels work better with what they know. Change to the curriculum then becomes a learning curve for a host of role players who are part of the value chain. 

However, there is no doubt that over the next few years the system will adapt to these changes and teachers, examiners and subject advisors will become more confident and adept with the CAPS and we will reap the benefits of added quality outcomes to the system.

Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot postpone the importance of raising the bar in the Basic Education sector. The journey has started now, and it has commenced in earnest. The implementation of the recommendations of the Ministerial Task Team on the NSC will also follow.

During the 2014 NSC standardisation process, Umalusi chairperson and CEO commended the sector for implementing a curriculum of a very high standard. The Umalusi team evaluated CAPS and their report was also considered as part of the standardisation process.

Quality Assurance and Standardisation

The Quality Assurance Council, UMALUSI, which plays a critical role in protecting the integrity of the National Senior Certificate examination, has after rigorous verification of all examination processes, declared the 2014 NSC examinations as free, fair and credible.

This achievement is attributed to the unwavering commitment demonstrated by examination officials at the DBE and across the nine provinces.

Umalusi exercises its quality assurance mandate by implementing the following measures which extend over the entire examination cycle:

Moderation of the question papers which is done by a panel of subject experts.

Monitoring of the writing of the examination Moderation of the marking; Standardisation of the subject results Verification of the results data.

On 23 December 2014, UMALUSI convened the standardisation meeting at which performance in each subject was analysed statistically and qualitatively to ensure that current performance was in keeping with performance in previous years.   We thank Umalusi for the sterling job they continue to do.

However in 2014, we experienced a strange phenomenon of group copying that has been identified by Umalusi and my Department during the administration of the 2014 NSC examinations which needs to be stamped out.

In terms of the Examination irregularities reported by Umalusi with specific reference to group copying in the Kwa Zulu Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces, results of 39 centres in Kwa Zulu Natal and 19 centres in the Eastern Cape were subjected to an investigative audit by both the DBE and Umalusi. 11 centres in Kwa Zulu Natal and 3 centres in Eastern Cape have been cleared of any irregular activity. The remaining 28 centres in Kwa Zulu Natal and 16 centres in the Eastern Cape will be further investigated and this will be finalized by end of January 2015.

District performance

And now coming to the performance of the Class of 2014, which we all have been anxiously awaiting.

I will start with the district performance, given that this has been the priority of my Department.

Of the 81 districts, no district performed below 50% in 2014 whilst we had .1 in 2013 which was in the Eastern Cape, the 8 districts that performed between 50% and 59% in the Eastern Cape have been reduced to 5 with now 2 districts from KZN joining this category, 12 districts from the Eastern Cape performs under 69%, 4 from KZN and1 from Limpopo.

In the Eastern Cape 1 district performed under 80%, in the Free Sate 4 put of five districts performed above 80% and the other district performed between 70% and 79%, Gauteng, 13 out of 15 districts performed above 80% and the other two performed between 70% and 79%, Limpopo 1 out 5 performed above 80%, Mpumalanga 1 out of 4, Northern Cape 1 out of 4 and in the Western Cape all districts performed above 80%, congratulation all Western Cape districts.

The top 5 districts are the following Gauteng West at 92.7 under Mr Skhosana Sedibeng East District at 90.7, Ekurhuleni North 88.7, West Coast in the Western Cape 88.4% and fifth districts are  Overberg in the Western Cape and Johannesburg South both at 88.1%.

Other districts that performed above 80% are:

Eastern Cape - Cradock 82.3%, Limpopo - Vhembe 81.1%, Mpumalanga - Ehlanzeni District 82.1%, North West - Bojanala Platinum District  86.2%  - Dr K Kaunda     83.8%  - Ngaka M Molema 87.0%, Northern Cape - Namaqua     82.0%

Provincial results

All Provincial Education Departments have worked tirelessly and consistently hard from the beginning of 2014.

Key interventions focused on improving performance in key gateway subjects and supporting underperforming schools and their principals. These initiatives have yielded results, however, there is much more work that needs to be done and it starts on the first day of school for all grades.

Preparations for grade 12 start in grade R and therefore there is no grade less important than the other. All grades must ensure that there us focus on time and task at all times throughout the year.

Provincial pass rates are as follows, in ascending order:

Eastern Cape achieved 65.4%, an increase of 0.5 percentage points from 64.9 in 2013.

KwaZulu-Natal achieved 69.7%, a decline from 77.4% in 2013, and a drop of 7.7 percentage points. It is the steepest decline of all the provinces. KZN has the largest number of Grade 12 learners in the 2014 NSC examinations. We need to look seriously into the factors affecting KZN's performance.

Limpopo achieved 72.9% in 2014, up from 71.8% of 2013, an improvement of 1.1%.  Limpopo needs to be congratulated for sustaining the upward trend in the midst of many challenges bearing in mind that this group of learners was the group that was affected by delays in the delivery of books in 2012. 

The relatively good performance of Limpopo in the NSC is encouraging. It is clear that Limpopo's secondary schools are doing an especially good job of producing quality NSC results.

Northern Cape achieved 76.4%, up from 74.5% in 2013, an improvement of 1.9 percentage points, the highest improvement in 2014.

Mpumalanga achieved 79 %, up by 1.4 percent from 77.6%

in 2013. Mpumalanga also needs to be congratulated for sustaining the improvement in the past few years.

Western Cape achieved 82.2%, down from 85.1% in 2013, a decline of 2.9 percentage points.

Free State has achieved 82.8%, down from 87.4%. This is a decline of 4.6%.

North West has achieved 84.6%, down from 87.2%, and representing a decline of 2.6 percentage points for the 2014 matric class.

The top performing province for 2014 is Gauteng which has achieved 84.7%, down from 87% in 2013, a drop of 2.3 percentage points. Well done to MEC Lesufi and his team from Gauteng!

In terms of numbers, Gauteng contributed the highest number of candidates qualifying for Bachelor studies in 2014 at 36 843, followed by  KwaZulu-Natal with 35 724  and Western Cape at 18 524. The number of Bachelor passs from Limpopo are also notable at 16 325.

What is also interesting to note is that there has been an increase in achievements by distinction in some subjects. History increased from 3.3% to 4.1%, Mathematical Literacy increased from 1.8% to 2.4% and Physical Science increased from 3.0% to 3.3%.

2014 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Results.

We are very proud of the class of 2014 because as already mentioned, the Class of 2014 was the first to group to write the final CAPS-aligned examinations, they are also the first cohort to experience a 1-percent drop in the language compensation, it is the first time that we have learners that were progressed to Grade 12.

If the nation recalls, at the beginning of the exams I did announce a much more stringent marking criteria, marker appointments were also audited and a more tighter moderation process put in place. 

 These measures chair, were put in place to intensify our efforts at increasing the quality of the examination outcome and enhance the quality and standard of our Grade 12 graduates.

This brings us to the 2014 results. In the past four years, the pass rate has been as follows: In 2009 it was 60.6%, in 2010 it was 67.8%, in 2011 it was 70.2%, in 2012 it was 73.9% and in 2013 it was 78.2%.

Again to remind the nation, when  we came into office in 2009, through our agreement performance with the Presidency and schooling 2030 we had targeted 75% by 2014. In 2013 we achieved 78.2%, we had surpassed our target with a year to go.

The National Pass Rate for the Class of 2014 is 75,8 percent, and sadly had a drop of 2,4 percentage points!

Of the total number of learners who wrote the NSC examination in 2014, 150 752 (28.3%) qualified for admission to Bachelor studies.

However, 135 943 candidates qualify for supplementary exams taking place in February and March. We will be discussing with provinces soon to agree on how this class is given special support for supplementary exams and repeaters as a special group that experienced many changes during their FET phase. Provinces will be requested to provide them with the  necessary assistance to prepare for these exams.

After receiving their results tomorrow, they should start immediately to prepare for their supplementary exams.

The Way forward

Ladies and gentlemen, the quality of education of any system is predicated on the quality of its teachers. The qualification profile of teachers in the sector has improved from 53 percent in 1990 to 97 percent in 2013. The data on the Foundation Phase teacher education involving universities show a massive growth of 35 275 in 2008 to 97 000 in 2013.

These numbers continue to grow year on year. Whilst this is encouraging, different studies still point to the need to continuously ensure that teachers and subject advisors competencies are improved.

The President has been making a call to make education a societal issue and school governing bodies are part of the key role players. Parents, learners and teachers working together have huge potential of   ensuring that School Governing Bodies in the majority of schools are  provide the required oversight of placing accountability on improving learning outcomes as their main task.

The implementation of CAPS has exposed all these shortcomings.

However, the establishment of the National Education Collaboration Trust was the best decision ever taken by both the private sector and government. It has played a crucial role in galvanising government, labour, business and civil society, directing their energies and resources towards realising goals of the NDP and Action Plan 2019.

In the short duration of its existence the NECT has been able to coordinate government and private sector efforts and resources to maximise the impact of interventions through high dosage in terms of support provided to schools and district.

The NECT has the agility to address some of the challenges in the sector in the manner that government would not be able to do so on its own.

The sector is on the right trajectory of addressing quality and efficiency. The first group of Grade 11 learners who were progressed without having met promotion requirements has gone through. It would be unwise to blame the under performance in some subjects in the NSC on these learners.

It is encouraging that some of these learners that were progressed have attained an NSC pass and some obtained bachelors passes.

The phenomenon of progressing learners who have not met promotion requirements is not unique to South Africa. It happens in countries like Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Japan, Korea, and United Kingdom. These countries are pro-automatic progression instead of repetition. This approach has been found to be efficient.  We have carried out our first step in dealing with inefficiency. We need to strengthen our support programme for such learners.

Going forward we will work hard to sustain improvement in learner performance, enhanced accountability at all levels of the system, greater focus on basic functionality of schools, and protecting time for teaching and learning.

We will also improve monitoring and support for teaching and learning.

The implementation of CAPS might have caused instability to the extent of distress in some subjects, but the benefits of it in the long term will out-live our generation of leaders and managers in the sector. We have more than enough lessons from 2014 ANA and NSC to propel us to greater heights of improving learning outcomes. We will   start to  factor some of the recommendations of the NSC Ministerial Task team.

SGB elections

School Governing Body Elections will take place from 6 to 28 March and we encourage all parents to support the elections by standing as candidates or by participating as voters in the SGB elections as voters.

Without parental and community support, education can never be a societal issue as envisaged by government.

Thank you

Issued by the Department of Basic Education, January 5 2015

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