The Department of Basic Education briefed the Committee on the 2019 National Senior Certificate results. The Committee heard that every examination was an opportunity to reflect, redirect and re-strategise; and currently, the most common way of assessing the performance of the educational system was the National Senior Certificate examinations. Members reported that there were plans to introduce a General Education Certificate that will provide an opportunity to assess the system after 10 years of schooling, including Grade R.
Members heard that the Class of 2019 was impacted upon by the progression policy, policy on multiple examination opportunity, as well as the abolishment of the designated list of subjects in 2018. This class was also the second time that Sign Language Home Language was offered in the examination. The Department assured Members that their evaluation of the assessment was guided by the six principles of Social Justice. There was an overall improvement in performance in 2019 as all Provincial Education Departments performed above 70% and there was an increase in the number of admissions to Bachelor Studies.
Members were concerned that some learners had not received their History marks but their scripts were found in the Principal’s office. They asked what the Department has done to address that case. The Committee asked why there were still instances of former Model C schools where there are 90% African learners but 100% White teachers; and with the Western Cape being depleted by learners from the Eastern Cape, why this excuse was being used to explain the poor budgeting for the poorer schools in the province. The Department explained to the Committee that the progression policy was not working because children were being moved to grades they were not prepared for. The Committee suggested that learners should receive their social grants while they were still in school, regardless of their age, and they also felt that the Department needed to look at the budget for hiring more teachers.
The Committee was briefed by Umalusi on the Framework for Quality Assurance of Assessment. Members heard that Umalusi monitored a sample of 311 examination centres and 18 marking centres across the nine Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). They also attended and participated in 132 marking guideline standardisation meetings. 35 subjects were sampled for the verification of marking in 94 marking centres across the nine PEDs. Members were displeased to hear that there has been no improvement in the performance in Mathematics, despite the interventions. The Department said that some of the issues raised by the Committee would need further investigation.
The 1st term Programme was adopted.
Minutes of 4 December 2019 were adopted without amendments.
Briefing by the Department of Basic Education on the National Senior Certificate Outcomes – 2019
Mr Rufus Poliah, Chief Director: Examinations, Department of Basic Education, said that every NSC examination is an opportunity to reflect, redirect and re-strategise. He hopes the Committee would be willing to do more than exercise oversight but also assist the Department in understanding the entire system better. The Department is currently putting into place, a systemic evaluation programme which will measure performance of the system at the end of grades 3, 6, and 9. The General Education Certificate will be piloted in 2020 and 2021 and will be rolled out in 2022. The certificate will be issued in order to assess how the system is performing after 10 years of schooling (Grade R included).
He said that the class of 2019 was impacted by the Policy on Progression; Policy on Multiple Examination Opportunity; the introduction of Sign Language Home Language in 2018; the introduction of specialisation in the Technology Subjects in 2018; as well as the Abolishment of the designated list of subjects in 2018.
The Department’s approach to evaluating the education system is guided by the six Principles of Social Justice – Access, Redress, Equity, Quality, Efficiency and Inclusivity.
Mr Poliah said a total of 787 717 candidates enrolled to write the examination. There was an increase in part-time enrolment from 2013, an increase from 39 719 to 170 963.
409 906 candidates attained a National Senior Certificate (NSC), which is an increase in 3.1% from 2018.
450 198 candidates receiving Social Grants wrote the NSC exam.
249 162 (63.8%) candidates from ‘no-fee’ schools obtained an NSC compared to 141 475 (36.2%) from ‘fee paying’ schools. 2 484 (50%) of the no-fee schools achieved above 80% pass rate.
339 249 (55%) girls, compared to 277 505 (45%), entered the NSC examination. 224 906 girls, compared to 185 000, passed the 2019 NSC examinations. 35.9% of learners who completed matric within the stipulated period are girls compared to 24.5% boys.
156 884 (3.9%) distinctions were recorded for full time candidates. 186 058 (36.9%) learners achieved admission to Bachelors Studies – an improvement of 3.3% from 2018. All of the 75 districts performed above 60%. 45 of the 75 districts performed above 80%.
23 483 (68.1%) of the progressed learners that wrote all seven subjects obtained the NSC. 2 255 (88%) of the learners with special education needs, who wrote the 2018 NSC examinations, passed.
The second examination in Sign Language was offered to 102 learners. A total of 2 656 learners with special needs wrote the NSC examination and 2 319 (87%) learners attained the NSC. 1 310 learners with special needs attained admission to Bachelor Studies, 702 achieved admission to Diploma Studies and 228 achieved admission to Higher Certificate Studies.
Graphs and tables were provided
He said the system is on a rise and this is confirmed by the overall improvement in performance in 2019. Six of the nine provinces have performed above 80%. There was an increase in the number of admissions to Bachelor Studies; number of districts that performed above 80%; the number of schools that achieved a pass rate above 80%.
He said there are areas which warrant greater attention. These include enrolment/performance in gateway subjects; enrolment in Technical Subjects; enrolment of Learners with Special Education Needs as well as raising the bar in terms of learner performance levels.
Ms M Gillion (ANC; Western Cape), said the indicators used in presenting the Senior Certificate results do not go into great enough detail. For example, what is the drop out rate? She said that one cannot have different approaches for different provinces. She said the races are being played against each other in the Western Cape – African learners from outside the province are referred to as ‘refugees’ and are viewed as taking up spots that would otherwise be occupied by a Coloured learner.
6145 learners are currently not placed in a school, and this is mostly learners from poor backgrounds. She said she had to meet with Circuit Managers to ensure that learners are placed in schools. If one wants a better society, the rules of education must be free and fair for all citizens. There are 25 learners in Laingsburg who have written but had not received their History marks. Their scripts were found in the Principal’s office. What has the Department done to address that case?
Ms Gillion said the system is failing the children. She asked why there are still instances of former Model C schools where there are 90% African learners but 100% White teachers. The best way to address the downward trend of Matric results in the Western Cape is to address the inequality as well as the inefficiencies that exist within the system. During a constituency meeting, she inquired about the hiring of more teachers as well as getting mobile classes, and she was told that the budget of the Western Cape is being depleted by learners from the Eastern Cape. She wanted to know why this excuse is being used to explain the poor budgeting for the poorer schools in the province. She said that the best learner from the Western Cape is always from a Model C school, what about ‘our children’, she asked.
Mr SG Padayachee, Deputy Director-General: Planning and Assessment, DBE, said that the issue of the placement of learners will need to be looked at further. He also agreed with Ms Gillion that the learners that are mostly affected are African and Coloured learners. He said that the Department is aware of the issue in Laingsburg and that a full investigation will have to take place.
Ms S Luthuli (EFF; KwaZulu-Natal), said that the progression policy is not working because children are being moved to grades they are not prepared for. The Department needs to look into this. She suggested that learners should receive their social grant while they are still in school, regardless of age. She also said that the Department needs to look at the budget for hiring more teachers.
Mr Poliah said the progression policy is still an ongoing issue within the Department.
Ms N Ndongeni (ANC; Eastern Cape), asked if there was any support for teachers in underperforming schools, or a way of holding them accountable. She said there is a decrease in the uptake of Mathematics and Physical Science and wanted to know what can be done to improve this. She asked about the performance of the progressed candidates. When it comes to learners dropping out the education system, she wanted to the actual problem is.
Mr Poliah said that the Principals are usually the ones held accountable for the performance of schools. The issue of Mathematics and Physical Science needs to be addressed from the lower grades.
The Chairperson wanted to know what happens in instances where a teacher is made to teach a subject that they are not trained to teach.
Mr Poliah said that if there is indeed an instance of this happening, then that would need to be investigated.
Mr M Bara (DA; Gauteng), wanted to know if there is a report on what happens to the learners that drop out.’ How do we make sure that private schools do not see themselves outside of the jurisdiction of Basic Education Department’? This was the case especially in instances where these schools withhold reports because of the lack of payment of school fees.
Mr Padayachee said that the withholding of reports is illegal and the Department can intervene. The Department can also intervene with regard to discrimination in the enrolment process or other constitutional matters. The scope for Departmental intervention is limited because private schools are a business as well.
Briefing by Umalusi
Mr John Volmink, Chair of the Council: Umalusi, said that Umalusi effectively plays an audit role with regards to the National Senior Certificate examination. The Quality Assurance of assessment is conducted to assure that the assessment leading to the award of certificates in schools and other accredited places of learning/training is of the required standard. This is in order to ensure that the certificates issued by Umalusi are credible.
All the three bodies that offer the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination are quality assured and certificated by Umalusi. These Assessment bodies are: the Department of Basic Education (DBE), Independent Examinations Board (IEB), and the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI).
Ms Mary-Louise Madalane, Manager: Quality Assurance, Umalusi, provided an overview of the Quality Assurance of Assessment and Examination Processes. She said Umalusi moderated and approved 134 DBE NSC question papers with their marking guidelines. Verification and moderation of School-Based Assessment (SBA) of 15 subjects was conducted between July and October 2019.
Umalusi monitored a sample of 311 examination centres and 18 marking centres across the nine Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). They also attended and participated in 132 marking guideline standardisation meetings. 35 subjects were sampled for the verification of marking in 94 marking centres across the nine PED.
All irregularities that were identified were managed in accordance with the Regulations Pertaining to the Conduct, Administration and Management of the National Senior Certificate Examinations by the Provincial Examination Irregularities Committees (PEIC).
The credibility of certificates issued by Umalusi is achieved through the moderation of question papers.
Moderation of Question Papers
In 2019, Umalusi moderated and approved 134 question papers with their marking guidelines for November 2019. The percentage of question papers that were approved at first moderation increased from 32.8% to 35.8% in 2019. Ms Madalane said there was an improvement of at least 5% in six of the criteria used for the moderation of question papers: technical details, internal moderation, quality of questions, language and bias, conformity of marking guideline with the question paper and reliability of marking guidelines.
Moderation of School-based assessment
An area of improvement was in the Visual Arts subject. Learners were able to produce creative and innovative conceptual artworks.
Audit of appointed markers
An audit of all markers was concluded in all the nine Provincial Education Departments. The Western Cape administered competency tests, which assessed both content knowledge and marking skills, and the results were used as an additional criterion in the selection of markers.
State of Readiness
This was assessed by the monitoring of the writing of examinations. Some areas of improvement that were noted are: a secure and well-managed printing process; electronic storage of scripts by some provinces; as well as the adherence and norms and standards for collection and return of examination material.
Monitoring of Writing of Exams
Umalusi noted a general improvement in compliance with policy in 2019. The following were noted: a significant improvement in the systems of safekeeping of examination material; systems were put in place to improve invigilator training and this was evident in the overall improvement in invigilation during the writing of examinations.
Monitoring of Marking
Umalusi sampled and monitored 18 marking centres across nine PEDs. The DBE had successfully addressed the directives for compliance and improvement issued in 2018: the timely provision of marking guidelines to all marking centres and improvement of the security management at marking centres.
Marking Guideline Discussion
Umalusi attended and participated in 132 marking guideline standardisation meetings. The pre-marking meetings were successfully planned and held for a full day. This was an improvement from 2018, which were held in the afternoons and into the evenings.
Verification of Marking
Due process was followed with the approval of changes and additions to marking guidelines at the marking centres.
Ms Zodwa Modimakwane, Executive Manager: Umalusi, provided an overview of the standardisation and resulting process. She explained that standardisation is a process used to eliminate the effect of factors other than the learners’ knowledge, abilities and aptitude on their performance. This is done to ensure that comparability and consistency of the results from one year to the next.
Some of the observations from the 2019 standardisation: the consistent easiness of History raised great concern. It is questioned whether the subject develops analytical and critical thinking, visual literacy and interpretation. There has been no improvement in the performance in Mathematics, despite the interventions.
The Executive Committee of Council approved the release of the November 2019 NSC examinations.
Adoption of 1st term programme
The programme was considered and adopted.
Adoption of outstanding minutes
The minutes of 4 December 2019 were considered and adopted without amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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