Minister Schäfer congratulates successful learners in the Western Cape - News | Western Cape Education Department

Minister Schäfer congratulates successful learners in the Western Cape

5 January 2018

On the release of the 2017 National Senior Certificate (NSC), I would like to congratulate the 82.8% of learners in the Western Cape who passed the 2017 NSC examination.

While there is a tendency to focus solely on the provincial pass rate (which is an important indicator), we must also consider other important indicators of success so that we can then determine if the system is ultimately improving or where it needs to be improved.

Traditionally, this Province has put particular emphasis on the retention of learners in the system, those achieving access to a Bachelor's Degree, and pass rates for mathematics and science.

We are thus especially pleased that the Western Cape has again achieved the highest percentage of bachelor's passes in the country, with 39.1% of learners achieving this quality pass.

In Mathematics, the Western Cape achieved the highest pass rate, achieving 73.9%.

In Physical Sciences, the Western Cape achieved a pass rate of 74.0%. This places us second in the country to the Free State in this subject for 2017. We congratulate the Free State on this achievement as well as taking first place in the country in terms of pass rate.

More learners in the Western Cape are taking maths and science as a percentage of the cohort, something that we have been encouraging over a number of years. While the overall cohort in the Western Cape was 2000 learners smaller than 2016, the number of learners taking maths and science only decreased by 703 and 329 respectively.

We are also incredibly proud of our learners who have yet again taken top positions in the country. They are:

  • Janke Van Dyk from Bellville High School was the top achiever in the country,
  • Matthys Carstens from Durbanville High School was placed second in the country,
  • Erin Solomons from Rondebosch Boys High School was place 3rd in Physical Science.

It is particularly noteworthy that each of these learners attends a public school.

A hearty congratulations to Janke, Matthys and Erin. We are very proud of you.

Congratulations to all of our 8 Education Districts who achieved over 80%. I would especially like to congratulations also to the Overberg district that achieved 10th place in the country, out of 70 districts with a pass rate of 87.7%.

The Western Cape Government has 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.

We believe that this practice defeats the purpose of education for these children and is unacceptable. It denies them the opportunity to succeed, no matter what challenges lie before them.

We are thus disappointed that the Minister made no mention at all of the inclusive basket of criteria that has been piloted for the last two years. Last year, taking into account these quality indicators, especially retention, the Western Cape was the Number 1 performing province.

When considering the NSC pass rate, we must consider the retention of learners by comparing the number of learners enrolled for the NSC exams (and the number who actually wrote the full exam) to 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.

The results of the "real matric pass rate" for the 2017 NSC show a very different 'ranking' to that announced by the National Minister of Basic Education last night:

Pupils in grade 10 in 2015 - PO and independent Numbers who wrote 2017 NSC - PO and Independent % of 2015 class that wrote the 2017 NSC - PO and independent Ranking
EASTERN CAPE 158 102 67 648 42.8% 7
FREE STATE 60 655 25 130 41.4% 9
GAUTENG 188 812 97 284 51.5% 2
KWAZULU-NATAL 253 233 124 317 49.0% 4
LIMPOPO 191 243 83 228 43.1% 6
MPUMALANGA 94 619 48 483 51.2% 3
NORTHERN CAPE 20 508 8 735 42,6% 8
NORTH WEST 69 476 30 792 44.3% 5
WESTERN CAPE 75 956 48 867 64.3% 1

It is clear that the Western Cape has retained the most learners in the system between Grades 10 and 12 - with a retention rate of 12.8 percentage points higher than Gauteng, and 22 percentage points higher than the Free State.

While it is always nice to be Number 1, in the Western Cape our focus will remain on whether we have increased the numbers of candidates passing, and the quality of those passes.

We are currently analysing the results to determine which schools did not perform well and in which subject areas.

It is evident that in this year's NSC, learners in subjects such as Business Studies, Geography, Accounting and History, performed at lower levels. This now needs to be compared and contrasted with the National results and the various districts.

Once the results have been analysed, we will engage with our senior management regarding a strategy for improving the results at the end of 2018.

One lingering concern for us is the ongoing failure of other provinces to conduct competency testing for their Matric markers. The WCED introduced this in 2011 to improve the standard of marking of the NSC examinations, and we have done it every year since then.

This is done to ensure that we appoint markers who demonstrate that they know how to mark, including interpreting candidate responses, and have a good understanding of the content of the subject they are marking.

The fact that Prof John Volmink, Chair of the Umalusi Council, in his statement of 29th December 2017, referred to the ongoing variances in marking between provinces, shows that it is a significant enough concern for Umalusi.

Umalusi's description leaves one with the impression that this was an issue which could have affected the results. It is vital that consistency in marking across provinces is achieved, to ensure that we are "comparing apples with apples".

We are continuously looking at ways to improve education in the Western Cape as we want to see more learners achieving their NSC and access to higher education, to broaden their opportunities. We are committed to ensuring that every learner in every classroom receives a quality education.