Speech by Minister Debbie Schäfer: 2015 NSC awards 12 January, 2016 | Western Cape Education Department

Speech by Minister Debbie Schäfer: 2015 NSC awards 12 January, 2016

Minister Angie Motshekga
Premier Helen Zille
Western Cape Director General - Brent Gerber
Superintendent-General Penny Vinjevold
All Officials of the WCED
Professor John Volmink, Chairman of Umalusi
Chair of the Western Cape Education Standing Committee of the Provincial Legislature, Basil Kivedo, and other members
Bruce Probyn, Chair of the Western Cape Education Council
All dignitaries welcomed by the Superintendent-General
Representatives of our sponsors,
Proud parents,
And most importantly, our newest matriculants

What a week!

What a pleasure and privilege to stand here today, to celebrate not only the achievements of our learners and schools, but also that the Western Cape is Number 1 in the country.

It has been a very special week, and today is a very special day.

A very special thank you to Minister Motshekga for celebrating with us. It really is a great pleasure working with you, and we are honoured to have you here today.

But before we get to some more detail on the results, I am going to do something rather unconventional. Normally we end off speeches with "and last but not least", and then mention some names of people who have been crucial to our success.

And whilst someone always has to be last, this year it is not going to be our officials, without whose support and commitment we would not be where we are today.

No success of a system as big as this can ever be achieved without a co-ordinated team effort.

We could not celebrate the success of matric exam results without writing the exams, so firstly I would like to thank DDG Brian Schreuder, Tina Singh, Andre Claausen, Blackie Swart and their teams for yet another year of excellently run NSC examinations and what looks to be another very enjoyable event today. While some of us actually managed to have a holiday, they worked tirelessly over the Christmas and New Year period to ensure that we delivered a credible result.

Preparing for the National Senior Certificate examinations is a huge logistical exercise that requires careful planning and tight management. I am pleased that there were no breaches of security, the exam period went well, the marking period ran smoothly (in spite of #FeesMustFall causing some changes in marking venues), and all results were in on time.

Special congratulations must go to Tina Singh - while Tina was ensuring that the exam process went smoothly for everyone else, her daughter, Santhuri managed to achieve 7 distinctions.

Then of course we need to mention SG Penny Vinjevold, who, while most people were doing some last minute shopping, was attending a standardisation meeting on 23rd December. Last year she was not too happy with our results, and she said "next year I will make you proud". Well SG, you have certainly done that.

To all senior staff, District Directors and especially Circuit Team Managers - thank you for your commitment.

I am very aware of the commitment and dedication that you have shown to your schools last year. Your support to and encouragement of these schools has evidently paid off.

Then of course we have our committed principals, teachers, parents and learners. The role you have played in delivering such a fantastic outcome in the NSC is significant and greatly appreciated.

The dedication and commitment shown by so many is truly inspirational. It is quite clear to me now that I have completed a full year in this position, that we have some jewels in this province and in this department - people who really care about our learners.

And what has really made me feel so good is to see the absolute joy on the faces of teachers and principals who have spent many extra hours ensuring that our matrics receive additional support, when they see the reward of their efforts and their learners doing well. I also have to note that the DDG in charge of schools, John Lyners looked like a Cheshire cat for about two days - and deservedly so!

What has also been inspiring is the excitement and energy this has given the Department and the province as a whole.

The performance of our province is giving hope to our country. And for that I say very well done, and thank you.

I turn now to some more detail about the results. We have always said that the league table is not the only indicator of success. The most important thing about the 2015 NSC is that we are also number one in the percentage of a number of key quality indicators, including bachelors passes, maths and science passes as well as increasing our retention rate by 3% from 2014.

Also significant is that every learner who passed the NSC did so qualifying with access to higher education of some sort. Africa Check even felt it necessary to verify that, and did so.

One of our key strategic objectives is to improve the quality of education provision in poorer communities.

Crucially, we are succeeding in closing the inequality gap between wealthy and poorer schools. There has been a steady improvement in our schools in Quintiles 1 - 3 since 2009. These schools tend to have the highest portions of historically disadvantaged learners.

This improvement has continued this year, and for the first time, the average pass rates in schools in each of quintiles 1, 2 and 3 are now all above 70% in the Western Cape. This is a significant milestone.

Improvements in Quintiles 1 to 3 reflect hard work by all concerned; including sustained support by our districts. This support included detailed analysis of the results and progress of every learner, and special interventions to support borderline cases.

Whilst we still have a long way to go, we are extremely pleased with the improvements achieved so far and will continue pursuing increased quality in order to ensure that all our learners have access to the best possible opportunities.

Mitchells Plain deserves a special mention this year.

10 out of 16 schools in the Mitchells Plain area saw increases in the numbers of learners passing, as well as increases in the pass rate. Mitchells Plain schools' average pass rate increased by nearly 10%. In 2014 they achieved an average pass rate of 76.32% and in 2015 achieved an 85% pass rate. This improvement is to be congratulated - District Director Glen van Harte, take a bow.

There are similar increases at other schools around the Province, which I cannot mention now but which I wish to congratulate. These schools have managed to substantially increase their pass rate, while ensuring that an increased number of learners entered and wrote the NSC.

I would also like to congratulate a number of schools that have achieved a 100% pass rate for the last five years. Thirty schools fall into this category with three of these schools being special needs schools. 12 of these schools are independent with the remaining 14 schools being public ordinary schools.

Once again, our rural districts have done us proud, with the Overberg and West Coast Districts achieving 89.74% and 88.93% respectively, which placed them in the top five districts in the Country and once again in the top two in the Province.

Heartiest congratulations to District Directors, Mr Bertram Loriston and Mr Jannie Beukes and your teams.

Very well done to Ms Sanette Nowers, District Director for Metro Central. Her district improved significantly from 82.23% in 2014 to 87.58% in 2015, with a very impressive Bachelor pass rate of 50.98%, placing them in the top 10 in the country.

Other than our Western Cape successes, I would also like to congratulate Gauteng, Free State and North West, who also did very well. I believe Gauteng is keen to reclaim their top spot, so the heat is on for 2016 - no pressure!

And now onto our learners.

WOW guys and girls, you have done us proud. I am SO proud of you, your schools are proud of you, this government is proud of you and I am sure that I can say, without putting words in her mouth, that Minister Motshekga is proud of you.

To achieve such outstanding results takes dedication and commitment throughout your entire school career, and for many of you, extra hard work in your matric year.

Well, your hard work has now paid off.

Those of you who have studied under very difficult circumstances, you are true champions.

Whatever you wish to do from now on, I wish you all the very best. Work hard, have fun, appreciate your friends and family, and do what you can to help our country.

Believe in yourself, don't lose your integrity, and never give up.

And once again, congratulations to all who are receiving awards today - I look forward to seeing you play important roles in our country's future.

Because somebody has to be last, but it really is by no means least, I would like to specially mention, with gratitude and appreciation, a number of sponsors who have generously donated the prizes for today.

One way or another, we will all benefit from your generosity today.

And very last, thank you Premier for hosting this very special event