Minister Schäfer pleased that indicators of quality show improvement in the WC

It has been a wonderful morning of excitement as thousands of learners celebrate the end of their school career with a National Senior Certificate pass.

I would like to congratulate the 81.5% of learners in the Western Cape who passed the 2018 NSC examination. 41 350 learners are celebrating their success today.

I also wish to congratulate Gauteng on their number one position, and the performance of their districts.

Indicators of Success

Matric results are our second key measure of the state of education in our province.

The Western Cape Government has always maintained that indicators of quality go well beyond the overall pass rate.  We focus on the quality of the passes and the retention of as many learners as possible in the school system so that we can ensure the best possible opportunities for our young people in the Western Cape.

I am therefore pleased that yet again, our indicators of quality show a sustained improvement in the Western Cape.

Results over the last five years of this administration have built on the progress of our previous administration.

The total percentage of candidates who passed matric has increased from 75.7% in 2009 to 81.5% in 2018 – an increase of 5.8%.

In 2009, the matric pass rate in Quintile 1 schools (the poorest) was 57.5%.  In 2018 it is 70.5%. There have also been pass rate increases of 10.6% in Quintile 2 and 15.6% in Quintile 3 schools during the same period.

There are significant improvements in all quality indicators:

1. Bachelor passes

I am especially proud that the Western Cape achieved an increase in the percentage of bachelor’s passes, with 42.3% of learners achieving this quality pass.  This is an increase of 3.2% from 2017, with an increase in the number of candidates achieving this from 19 101 in 2017 to 21 492 in 2018.

Since 2009, the Bachelor pass rate has increased from 31.9% to 42.3% – a remarkable increase of 10.4%.

The proportion of Bachelors passes in Quintiles 1 – 3 has more than doubled since 2009. This is most significant in Quintile 1, where the bachelors percentage increased from 8.7% in 2009 to 24.2% in 2018.

2. Mathematics

In Mathematics, the Western Cape again achieved the highest pass rate, increasing from 73.9% in 2017 to 76%.

The maths pass rate has increased from 64.9% in 2009 to 76% in 2018 – an increase of 11.1%

3. Physical Science

In Physical Sciences, the Western Cape achieved a pass rate of 79.5%, an increase from 72.0% in 2017.

The Science pass rate increased from 52.9% in 2009 to 79% in 2018 – an impressive increase of 26.1%

The Western Cape has established itself as the leading province in maths and science results, given that our percentage pass rate performance in the NSC remains in the top three in mathematics and physical science.

I am especially proud that the Western Cape again has candidates in the top positions in the country. They are:

  1. Top candidate in the Country – Justine Lara Crook Mansour – Rustenburg GHS
  2. Top candidate in Quintile 2 – Kamva Goso – Intsebenziswano HS
  3. 2nd in Maths – Timothy John Schlesinger – Rondebosch BHS
  4. 3rd in Maths – Liam Edward Gurney – Westerford HS
  5. 2nd in Physical Sciences – Kamva Goso – Intsebenziswano HS
  6. 3rd in Physical Sciences – Jean Durand – Paul Roos Gymnasium
  7. 3rd in Sign Language Home Language – Ancilla Kaylynn Julius – Dominican School for the Deaf
  8. 3rd in Special Needs Education – Lisa Marie Van Wyk – Pionier School for the Blind

4. Retention

The Western Cape Government has consistently said year on year, that when considering the NSC results, one has to consider the numbers of learners passing through the system and ultimately passing their matric.

We believe that retaining more learners in the system and giving them the opportunity to pass the NSC is more important than “losing” learners along the way so that schools can achieve a higher pass rate.

Therefore, when considering the NSC pass rate, it is important that we consider the retention of learners by comparing the number of learners enrolled for the NSC exams with the number of Grade 10 learners enrolled two years before that. This is known as the “Real Matric pass rate”.

Unlike the overall “pass rate”, the “real matric pass rate” factors in the retention rate.

Our retention rate from Grades 10 to 12 is the highest in the country, at around 63%. Not a single other province managed to achieve over a 50% retention rate.

The results of the “real matric pass rate” for the 2018 NSC show a very different ‘ranking’ to that announced by Minister Motshekga last night:

ProvincePupils in grade 10 in 2016 – PO and independentNumbers who wrote 2018 NSC – PO and Independent% of 2016 class that WROTE the 2018 NSC – PO and independentRank
EASTERN CAPE151 44865 73343,4%5
FREE STATE62 28324 91440.00%9
GAUTENG190 99894 87049.67%2
KWAZULU-NATAL248 760116 15246.60%4
LIMPOPO187 88176 73040.83%8
MPUMALANGA91 8054461248.59%3
NORTHERN CAPE23 4179 90942.31%7
NORTH WEST67 54029 06143.02%6
WESTERN CAPE80 61750 75462.90%1

It is disappointing that the National Minister did not release the results calculated according to the “Inclusive Basket Basket of Criteria, which DBE has been using for the last two years unofficially, and which factors in other indicators of success such as Mathematics, Physical Science, and Bachelor passes, in addition to the retention of learners as described above. We believe that this is a far more accurate representation of success than a “league table”.

After analysing some of the data provided by DBE, it is clear that the numbers of learners writing the multiple exam opportunity has had a significant effect on the results.  By removing these learners from the calculation, this will tend to inflate the pass rate, as they are the weaker learners that would have achieved at lower levels, or failed.  My concern is that this could provide a perverse incentive to encourage learners who are weaker, to write the MEO instead of the full exam.

Marking of scripts:

The WCED is continually looking to improve its systems in the administering of the NSC.

In 2011, the Western Cape introduced competency tests for markers to improve the standard of marking of the NSC examinations.

The competency tests are developed with the aim of assessing the teacher/subject officials’ knowledge of the subject, marking skills and also skills in the development and application of the memorandum.  We are confident that testing of this nature ensures, where possible, that there is the highest possible standard of marking in the NSC examinations.

Unfortunately, despite calls to do so, the other Provinces do not administer such tests when appointing markers for these examinations.

In February 2013, Umalusi was quoted in the Business Day as “strongly recommending” competency tests for matric exam markers, saying they would “go a long way in the identification of competent markers”.

Last week, in his media briefing, Professor John Volmink, the Chair of Umalusi Council, said: “Sadly Umalusi has noted with some concern that there is still some unevenness in the quality of marking across provinces. Directives for improvements and compliance will be issued to address these weaknesses”.  This is the strongest statement we have seen from Umalusi on this, and one which we welcome.

The Western Cape remains the only province to conduct testing of this nature to ensure that we appoint markers who demonstrate that they know how to mark and the content of the subject they are marking.  It is disappointing that other provinces have not made any effort to do so.

Improving on our indicators of success.

Once the results have been analysed further, the HOD, curriculum heads and district directors will engage on a strategy for improving the results at the end of 2019.

As a province, we are committed to ensuring that every learner in every classroom receives a quality education.  We need to focus on the sustained increase in results throughout the system and that it is reflective of the overall improvement in the state of education in the Western Cape.

We have to do a lot of work in getting learners to understand their learning role. We must instill in them a growth mindset so that we turn the tide of negativity brought about by poverty, gangsterism and drug/alcohol abuse. Our schools must be recognized and supported by all communities as beacons of hope for the future so that our learners enter to learn and leave to serve.

Again, I would like to thank all the school principals, teachers, school governing bodies and parents who supported the class of 2018.

Every measure indicates that the Western Cape is succeeding in providing greater access to opportunity. We still have a long way to go, but progress to date is undeniable.


Jessica Shelver – Western Cape Basic Education

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