Western Cape 2023 National Senior Certificate Awards
Speech by Minister David Maynier, Minister of Education Western Cape
Good morning Premier and Tracy Winde,
All of our honored guests,
Our school staff and officials,
And most importantly, the top achievers of the Western Cape matric class of 2023!
It is wonderful to be here again in the beautiful gardens of Leeuwenhof to celebrate our matric class.
It is such a special occasion for our top achievers and their parents, and I am pleased that we are able to showcase our artists and musicians this year.
Celebration of the 2023 matric results
The past year was a tough one for our candidates and schools. After years of disrupted learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2023 we faced minibus taxi blockades and strikes, two major floods, and severe load shedding.
Yet despite this, the Western Cape Class of 2023 increased the matric pass rate for the third year running, to 81.54%.
Every single one our 50 520 candidates who passed met the requirements to access higher education, with 26 182 candidates (or 42.2%) qualifying with a bachelors pass to attend university, our highest number of bachelors passes ever!
Our Western Cape candidates achieved the top Mathematics pass rate at 75.4%, and the top Physical Sciences pass rate at 82.2%. These are critical subjects for the national and provincial economy, so we are pleased to see improvements in both compared to 2022.
We also have the second highest distinctions rate, with 24 982 subject distinctions being awarded to candidates in the Western Cape!
What is equally impressive is that we increased our retention rate, or the percentage of the Grade 10 class from two years’ ago who wrote their matric exams this year, has increased to 69.3%.
Getting both the pass rate and the retention rate to move in a positive direction is a difficult task, and our school staff, and particularly our principals, are making the choice to give more learners a shot at passing their matric exams, instead of holding them back to improve their school pass rate.
Yes, we could drop our retention rate to climb the results league table, but that would result in fewer learners writing and passing their exams, and a greater risk of them dropping out entirely.
So let me be clear: the Western Cape is simply not willing to sacrifice retention to hike up our pass rate relative to other provinces.
We are also delighted that the top candidate in the country once again hails from the Western Cape.
Melissa Müller from Rhenish Girls’ High School not only ranked as the top public school candidate in the country, she is also the top Quintile 5 candidate, and the top Mathematics candidate, in the country. This is an outstanding achievement.
Here’s an interesting fact for you: the top candidate in the country has come from the Western Cape in 6 of the past 7 matric exams, and the top candidate in Mathematics has been from the Western Cape for 5 matric exams in a row!
5 other Western Cape learners were also recognised at the national results function in Gauteng:
- Ethan Myers from Herzlia High School is the top independent school candidate;
- Jared Benn from Wynberg Boys’ High School ranked second in quintile 5, and is the top candidate in Physical Sciences;
- Samkelo Gumada from Athlone School for the Blind is the top special needs candidate;
- Victor Mapolisa, also from Athlone School for the Blind, ranked third in special needs education candidates; and
- Amahle Jemane from De La Bat School ranked second in South African Sign Language.
I congratulate each one of you on this astounding achievement, and for representing us so wonderfully at the national awards earlier this month.
New direction in education
We are especially pleased that our learners with special needs are being recognised for their incredible achievement, as improving access to quality education for learners with special needs is a key priority for our government, and is part of the new direction in education that we have set out in the past year.
Many of you already know that our vision for quality education for every learner, in every classroom, in every school in the Western Cape.
We aim to achieve this by expanding access to education including for learners with special needs, reversing learning losses, improving Early Learning, developing partnerships with the private sector, and working with the World Bank to set long term priorities for our province’s education system.
There are huge challenges we need to face in doing so, not least the massive budget constraints we are currently facing.
But I can promise you this:
The Western Cape Government will not stop fighting to get the budget we need in order to deliver on our vision of quality education.
Recognition of our key role-players
Thank you to our principals and teachers, who have worked incredibly hard to make sure our matrics had the best possible chance of success in their final exams.
It has been a tough few years for our school staff, with the Covid-19 pandemic disrupting schooling, and then the return to full time attendance leaving us with the lasting impact of learning losses.
You are our greatest asset, and we appreciate the dedication, care and love that you show every day for the learners of the Western Cape.
We must also thank our exams officials, led by Bertram Loriston, who oversee the entire exam process. To give you a sense of the scale of the operation required to conduct the 2023 matric exams in our province:
- A total of 123 exam papers were written at 469 exam centres, overseen by 1 878 invigilators.
- Our 4 158 markers at 11 marking centres needed to mark 928 000 exam scripts, which were then verified by 1 046 mark checkers.
And all of this had to take place before 21 December 2023.
It is a mammoth administrative task, which our examinations team, headed up by Bertram Loriston, accomplishes with great skill and efficiency. We thank them for their exceptional work this year, and every single year, that allows the exams to run without incident in our province.
You may not yet know that Haroon is going to be retiring in April, so this is his last set of matric results as DDG. Haroon, I wish you all the best as you take a well-deserved break when you retire, and thank you for your many years of service to our children.
Our district directors, who are here with us today, do an outstanding job under impossible circumstances. Thank you for the sacrifices you make daily to keep the ship on a steady course, and for always keeping the best interest of our learners as your guiding star.
Thank you to our subject advisers, circuit managers, district and curriculum staff who have done everything they can to support our schools.
I thank our matric parents, who have supported our learners through thick and thin.
I think there is a particular kind of anxiety that comes from being the parent of a matric learner, and it is one that I am glad I still have quite a long time to prepare for. I know that you have shared the hopes and fears of your children as they wrote their exams, so this is your achievement too.
Message to the Class of 2023
And finally, to the matric Class of 2023:
We are so proud of you, of your commitment, of your hard work, and of the investment you have made in your own future.
Keep hold of your drive and determination: it will serve you well in the years ahead.
Whenever I speak with our top achievers, and indeed with any of our matriculants, I can’t help but feel optimistic about the future that our matriculants will help us build.
You are an exceptionally talented group of young people.
So when we look for our future engineers,
For our future doctors,
For our future scientists,
For our future artists,
For our future musicians,
For our future teachers,
And even our future Premiers,
We will not have to look outside our province.
We will find them right here, in the Class of 2023 and our top achievers in the Western Cape.
Spokesperson to Minister David Maynier
Western Cape Ministry of Education