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Friday, 28 December, 2007

Western Cape matric results satisfactory given tough year for education

Statement by Cameron Dugmore, MEC for Education in the Western Cape

Although the matric results of 80,6% of the Western Cape is less than the 83,7% we achieved in 2006, we are satisfied with the overall result, given the tough year for education in 2007.

We are pleased with the steady growth in the number of candidates who passed, from 33 316 last year to 33 787 in 2007 an increase of 471. The growth in the number of candidates passing has been a trend in the province over several years. However, improving the quality of passes remains a serious challenge.

The number who passed without endorsement has increased from 22 727 in 2006 to 23 487 in 2007, an increase of 760.

The number of candidates who passed with endorsement declined by 289 from 10 589 to 10 300. Merit passes declined by 152 from 6 594 to 6 442 and distinctions by 133 from 2 280 to 2 147, which is to be expected if the pass rate declines slightly.

We will analyse the results carefully to understand the issues involved, including the impact of the public service strike in June this year.

We will also look carefully at targets that schools set for their overall results, as well as for specific subjects such as Mathematics and Physical Science, and their action plans to achieve these targets.

The results show that we have made steady progress overall with Mathematics and Physical Science on the Standard Grade, but not on the Higher Grade.

The number of candidates who passed Mathematics on the Standard Grade increased from 9 824 in 2006 to 10 346 in 2007. The number of candidates who passed Physical Science on the Standard Grade also increased, from 4 972 in 2006 to 5 137 this year.

The number of candidates who passed Mathematics on the Higher Grade declined from 4 137 in 2006 to 3 990 this year. The number of passed Physical Science on the Higher Grade declined from 4 053 in 2006 to 3 687 in 2007.

The total number of candidates who passed Mathematics on either the Standard or Higher Grades increased by 375 from 13 961 in 2006 to 14 336 in 2007. The total number of candidates who wrote Physical Science on either grade declined from 9 025 in 2006 to 8 824 this year.

We are pleased to note that the number of candidates with one or more A symbols increased from 3 885 last year to 4 209 in 2007, the largest number for the past three years. One candidate, Ruhan Meyer, of Hoër Jongenskool Paarl, opted to take 10 subjects for matric and achieved A symbols for all of these subjects.

Highlights of this years results include the many schools in poor areas that excel despite a range of challenges they face in their efforts to provide quality education. Many of these schools set ambitious targets and have achieved or exceeded them.

Examples include the Centre for Science and Technology in Khayelitsha (COSAT), that has achieved a 100% pass rate for the past three years.

Masibambane Secondary has matched the provincial pass rate with a pass rate of 80,9% while also increasing the number of successful candidates from 93 in 2006 to 161 in 2007.

Bridgton Secondary in Oudtshoorn has increased its pass rate from 82,94% to 87,62% while increasing the number of successful candidates, along with the number of learners who have achieved passes with endorsement, merit and distinction.

There are many more examples of schools that are achieving despite poor circumstances.

We are also deeply concerned at the number of schools that are showing no progress despite considerable support from the department and other agencies. The number of schools that achieved pass rates of less than 60% has grown from 34 in 2006 to 57 in 2007. Three of these schools are private schools.

We have noted that a number of these schools did not set targets earlier this year and that their pass rates dropped substantially. We will analyse the performance of these schools closely for further attention in 2008.

While the strike may be a factor in explaining the performance of these schools, there are other factors, including the general context of the school, teaching practice and leadership and management issues.

We will refine our target setting programme in 2008, starting with a close analysis of results in January, followed by target setting and development of action plans by the end of February.

We are well aware that there are no "quick fixes" and that we have to look at systemic change to improve learner achievement in the long term.

Our strategy includes building the literacy and numeracy skills of primary school children to provide a solid foundation for high school, while also providing special support in high schools that need this support the most.

In the meantime, we draw encouragement from schools that continue to do well, despite poor circumstances and will continue to acknowledge this achievement and use them as examples of best practice.

We celebrate examples of these schools today, as well as the achievements of our learners who have demonstrated what they can achieve through commitment and hard work.

We thank all our parents, teachers, school leaders, officials and partners who have worked so hard to make a difference in the lives of the matric class of 2007.

For enquiries, contact Gert Witbooi:  082 550 3938, or gwitbooi@pgwc.gov.za or Paddy Attwell at pattwell@pgwc.gov.za.

Issued by:
Gert Witbooi
Media Liaison Officer
Office of the MEC for Education
Western Cape
Tel: 021 467 2523
Fax: 021 425 5689

Visit our website: http://wced.wcape.gov.za

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