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Media Release

27 December, 2002

Western Cape scores straight ‘A’ for matric

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Education Minister

I am pleased to announce that, in 2002, the Western Cape has achieved the best results ever achieved by matriculants in this province.

As far as our matric pass rate is concerned, the Western Cape has scored a straight “A” – 86.5%, in this year’s Senior Certificate examinations.

Our pass rate this year has increased by 3.8 percentage points from last year’s pass rate of 82.7%. The pass rate has never, ever increased by this much in the province before. We have never broken through the 85% barrier before.

This is a clear indication that we are on track towards realising our goal of putting learning first to empower more and more learners to break through to a better future.

We are clearly building the foundations of a world-class province – a province that can produce learners for the world stage, who will be leaders of tomorrow in various fields in this country. A new generation of South Africans who will be the vanguard for achievement and excellence. Young minds that can help us to shape the future.

As you would know, we strongly believe in the principle of consequence for continued failure. But we believe as strongly in the flip side of this notion – reward for hard work, commitment and, consequently, success.

There is no substitute for hard work, commitment and diligence. This is what we would like to acknowledge today. Once again, we are going to recognize our 20 top achievers. Once again, we will reward our schools that have consistently shown notable, substantial improvement, notwithstanding challenging circumstances.

But for the first time we will also recognize the substantial achievement of individual learners who have achieved notwithstanding their circumstances. For the first time we will also reward schools that have consistently maintained excellent results.

If we want to reward hard work and success, we have to do that across the spectrum, we have to broaden our award base. I promised this during a similar event last year, and we are going to do that today. In our province, every school, every educator, every learner counts.

Earlier this year, we set ourselves two basic goals – to improve the pass rate and to improve the quality of passes. I am especially pleased to announce that we have achieved both of these goals.

It is also very important to note that the total, real number of matriculants in the Western Cape is increasing. This is another indicator of success.

The actual number of learners passing their matric has grown from 31 049 in 2001 to 32 985 in 2002, the highest number since 1994.

We measure the quality of passes by the number of candidates passing with endorsements, merit passes and distinctions.

We also take a special interest in the number of candidates passing mathematics and physical science, particularly on the higher grade, given our legacy of poor performance in these subjects in this country.

  • I am therefore pleased to announce that the percentage of successful candidates who have obtained their Senior Certificates with matriculation endorsement has increased from 25% in 2001 (representing 9 378 candidates) to 26.5% in 2002 (representing 10 118 candidates).

  • The number of candidates who have passed with Distinction has increased significantly from 1 566 in 2001 to 2 120 in 2002.

  • The number of candidates who have passed with Merit has also increased notably from 6 024 to 6 736.

These figures illustrate steady improvement in the quality of passes in the Western Cape, and provide good reasons to celebrate.

  • I am also particularly heartened by the number of candidates who have achieved “A” symbols. For example, the number of candidates who have achieved six “A” symbols has more than doubled, from 105 in 2001 to 219 in 2002.

  • The number of candidates passing Mathematics on the Higher Grade has increased from 3 461 in 2001 to 3679 in 2002. The pass rate in Mathematics on the Higher Grade in 2002 is 89.3%, an excellent achievement.

  • The number of candidates who passed Physical Science on the Higher Grade increased from 3 487 in 2001 to 3 670 this year. This means that 88.2% of candidates who wrote Physical Science on the Higher Grade passed this examination in 2002. This is also an excellent achievement.

At this point I would like to pay special tribute to candidates and their teachers at the Centre for Science and Technology (COSAT) in Khayelitsha for their excellent results this year.

These learners from disadvantaged backgrounds have shown what it takes to excel in their examinations, and the role that specialised interventions can play in improving results. COSAT is an initiative of the WCED.

  • All 31 learners at COSAT passed their Senior Certificate this year, 21 with matriculation endorsement, 19 with Merit passes, and 18 with subject distinctions. The number of COSAT matriculants increased this year from 21 in 2001 to 31.

  • Twenty-one COSAT candidates passed Mathematics on the Higher Grade, 23 passed Physical Science on the Higher Grade; 29 passed Biology on the Higher Grade, and all 31 passed Computer Studies on the Standard Grade.

I am pleased to say that the number of schools in the Western Cape with matric pass rates of less than 60% has dropped considerably this year, from 47 in 2001 to 28, following this year’s exams.

Forty-five of these 47 schools improved their matric pass rates. This represents the best result ever achieved by our Learning Schools Project and other interventions based at our Education Management and Development Centres, or EMDCs.

The Learning Schools Project specifically targets schools with pass rates of less than 60% in the previous year’s matric exams.

I would like to mention examples of the excellent results achieved by some of the schools participating in the Learning Schools Project:

  • Murraysburg High School, for example, increased its pass rate from 58.3% in 2001 to 96.55% in 2002.

  • Fezekile Secondary, in Oudtshoorn, increased its pass rate from 33.33% in 2001 to 65.85% this year.

  • Phakama Secondary in Philippi East increased its pass rate from 54.43% to 71.43%.

  • Stellenzicht Secondary, in Stellenbosch, my constituency, improved its pass rate from 41.94% to 68.89%.

It is worth noting that 48, mostly African, learners, who wished to pass Mathematics on the Higher Grade, took part in a special tutoring programme, as a pilot project within the Learning Schools Project. I initiated this pilot project after the June examinations as a special effort to increase the number of Higher Grade maths passes among African candidates. Thirty-two of these learners achieved this objective.

There are many other example of how focus, commitment and hard work on the part of all concerned has made a difference, despite poor socio-economic circumstances.

I am also pleased to announce that no public ordinary school in the Western Cape now has a matric pass rate of less than 35%. In 2000, 12 schools achieved pass rates of less than 35%, and 10 schools in 2001.

We have now reduced the number of public ordinary schools in this category to zero. This illustrates the steady improvement in the overall performance of our schools, especially in our poorest areas.

We have every reason to celebrate our results. This is an excellent achievement, for our learners, teachers, principals and the WCED as a whole.

We congratulate all our successful candidates on these excellent results. We also congratulate and thank our teachers who have done so much to guide these learners through at least 12 years’ of schooling to this wonderful achievement.

We thank our principals and governing bodies for ensuring that the management and governance of our schools is such that the Western Cape can deliver such a high standard of education.

I thank our officials in all our support structures for all the support you have given to our schools, especially where it is needed most, in our poorest communities, to ensure that as many learners as possible are given a chance to excel.

I would like to pay special tribute to our senior officials and their teams for their excellent work in managing the matric exam process this year.

They include the Head of Education in the Western Cape, Mr Ron Swartz; the Deputy Director-General: Education Planning and Development, Mr Brian Schreuder; our Chief Director: Education Planning, Ms Penny Vinjevold; the Director of Curriculum Development, Ms Jenny Rault-Smith; and the Director of Examinations, Mr André Clausen.

We also thank all our partners in education, in government and the private sector, for all they have done to support our work in ensuring quality education for all.

Achievement is only possible if all of us in the Western Cape are united in our efforts to put education first. If we stand together in education we shall accomplish even more.  Our ability, our will to work together as one and to overcome challenges, together, will determine the measure of our future success.

The answer, the key to the future lies in partnerships – a partnership between our government and our educators and schools, partnerships between our schools and our EMDCs and Head Office; partnerships between schools and, very importantly, more and more partnerships between civil society, including the private business sector, and education.

The more partnerships we build, and the more we are able to strengthen existing partnerships, the better progress we shall make. We are in education together, and we should continuously strive towards improving this togetherness to make progress.

Everyone involved in education in the Western Cape can now move forward into the new year feeling satisfied that they have accomplished much in 2002, and have provided a foundation on which we can strive towards further improvement.

I want to challenge every Western Capetonian to become involved in education in 2003. Every individual, young and old, every organisation, from church to mosque, civic association to trade union, shop to factory, and public servants in all sectors.

If everyone directs part of his or her energy towards education in 2003, the sky’s the limit when it comes to future performance.

Let all of us have a dream, a dream of real quality education for all. And let us get to work to realise that dream. Together we can and shall make a difference.

We must all take ownership of education. We must celebrate positive achievements together, such as this year’s outstanding results. During difficult times, we must work together to meet our challenges, and to create new opportunities where possible.

People who take ownership of education remain positive and don’t complain to one another during difficult times. People such as this stand together, united in their efforts to come out on top.

As we approach the future, let us not only aim to reach even higher, and not only for the best, but let us also remember the words that Carroll Quigley had for his class at Georgetown University:  “The thing that got you into this classroom today is your belief in the future, the belief that the future can be better than the present and that people will and should sacrifice in the present to get to that better future.”

The sacrifices our learners made this year to excel so well, were made in the knowledge that sacrifices are necessary to break through to a better future.

The contribution and support of the teachers of our province, and the parents of our learners, were also given in the knowledge that we are building a better future.

So long as we keep an eye on the future, especially as we move through the changes we are experiencing in education, with its great challenges, no one can hold us back.

We will then have a province that will go from strength to strength, unstoppable on a road to a better future.

Media inquiries:
Andrè Gaum
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