2021 National Senior Certificate results; with Ministry

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

16 February 2022
Chairperson: Mr M Nchabeleng (ANC; Limpopo)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) in its virtual briefing on the 2021 November National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination said the Class of 2021 had been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic for two years. However, they had overcome adversity through resilience. The Class of 2021 produced the desired results considering that the past two years of schooling were not normal. There was an increase in the number of full-time learners. There was a significant improvement in performance in the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape. Additionally, there were improvements in the overall number of admissions to Bachelor and Diploma studies. The enrolment and performance of special needs learners has improved. It was noted that 29 000 registered learners did not write one or more of the NSC examinations. The Department announced that they will be implementing a Systemic Evaluation Programme, which will measure learner performance in Grades 3, 6, and 9 across the country.

Members were concerned about the low level in Mathematics and Mathematical Literacy, despite the larger admissions to Bachelor studies. The underperformance in Mathematics and Science is concerning and they asked what strategy DBE is taking to assist learners. Members asked about the investigation into leakage of exam papers in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and the 29 000 learners that did not write the examinations.

Umalusi briefed the Committee on the Framework for Quality Assurance of Assessment. It monitored a sample of the 442 examination centres and 40 marking centres across the nine Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). Umalusi attended and participated in 142 marking guideline standardisation meetings, largely via Microsoft Teams, with two attended onsite. It sampled 37 subjects for the verification of marking across the nine PEDs.

Members were concerned about the shortages of markers and that some markers were not Grade 12 teachers.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed the Committee to the first meeting of 2022 and he hoped that Members are ready to tackle the responsibilities of the Sixth Parliament mandate. He welcomed the Minister and Deputy Minister of Basic Education, the Director General, and Umalusi representatives led by Prof Volmink who is exiting Umalusi. The Chair thanked him for his leadership and contribution at Umalusi.

The Chairperson wanted to congratulate the Class of 2021 who had a rough time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, not only in Matric but in Grade 11 when the pandemic shut everything down. He congratulated the Department of Education and Umalusi as well as the provinces for the overall 76.4% pass rate. He was filled with joy when he saw the results in Special Needs Schools which demonstrated resounding success. The Chair also thanked teachers, parents, and other stakeholders for walking the journey with the matric class of 2022 to ensure learners' success.

The Chair wanted to encourage learners who did not achieve the NSC to go for the Second Chance Matric Programme [spoke in Sepedi]. He added that life is about second chances and that learners should be encouraged to try again.

Minister of Basic Education introductory remarks
Minister Angie Motshekga joined the Chair in congratulating the learners of 2021. The Minister said she is concerned about the Class of 2022 because when those learners were in Grade 10, they only had 30% of teaching and came back late in July 2020 because the Department prioritized Grades 11 and 12. Last year, when they were in Grade 11, they had a disrupted timetable. However, the focus is on the 2021 group. She thanked the 2021 matric group for keeping hope burning as future matric are likely to face more difficulties. They will be encouraged by the class of 2021. She thanked the Chair for the opportunity to account to the Committee for the work of the nine provinces.

National Senior Certificate Outcomes – 2021
Director General Mweli did not present as he had network connectivity challenges so Mr Rufus Poliah, DBE Chief Director: Examinations, presented. Mr Poliah agreed with the Chair that the class of 2021 showed a resilience that the DBE did not expect. In their discussion at the Department of Basic Education, they have come to realise that resilience and tenacity confirm the resilience and tenacity of an education system that can change and adapt to any situation. “Overcoming adversity…through resilience” summarises the Class of 2021.

DBE would be implementing the Systemic Evaluation Programme, which will commence on 21 February 2022. It is a sample evaluation to measure learner performance in Grades 3, 6, and 9 across the country. The DBE is looking at school functionality and district reports with this programme. The district report will be available in due course. DBE measures performance against Principles of Social Justice – Access, Redress, Equity, Quality, Efficiency, and Inclusivity. DBE takes the performance of 2021 and aligns it to each principle to determine how well the department is doing.

Looking at the profile of the Class of 2021, the past two years of schooling were not normal. However, they have proven that they could produce the desired results. DBE amended the assessment regime, the weighting of School Based Assessment (SBA) in Grade 11 increased from 25% to 60%, and weighting of exams decreased from 75% to 40%. [16:53 inaudible] This shows the various impediments that the Class of 2021 faced. The multiple interventions put in place by DBE ensured that the disadvantaged were minimized.

Mr Poliah noted it is essential to look at the shape and size of the education sector. The education statistics for 2021 show that the schooling system comprises 13 409 249 learners, 447 123 educators, and 24 894 schools (including public and independent schools).  

The Class Of 2021
The DBE tracked the Class of 2021 from Grade 1 to 12. DBE is constantly being criticized for the high dropout rate; therefore, presenting the figures is essential. The figures show that in 2010 DBE started with 1 116 899 learners, and in Grade 12, there were 750 478 learners. It is an indication that DBE is able to retain the one million learners until Grade 10. However, after Grade 10 some learners may have dropped out, branched out to FET colleges, other opportunities of learning, and the world of work. The figures give DBE a sense of the system's retention rate.

Comparison Of Grade 12 EMIS Data versus Exam Data
At the beginning of 2021, DBE started with 750 478 learners, with 733 198 of them registered to write the exams. He assumes that the difference between 750 478 and 733 198 is that some have moved to the part-time system, some to the Independent Exam Board (IEB), but the difference is small. 704 021 learners wrote the exam, and 29 177 learners did not write the examination. The figure shows a high level of preparedness amongst learners as 96% were present to write the examinations.

 2021 Learner Support Focus Areas
The learner support programmes focus on the key four tiers: curriculum coverage, additional resources, e-support, and teacher development. The learner support programmes have proven to be successful. He did not go into depth as those details were presented to the Committee last year.

NSC Promotional Requirements
Learners could not obtain an NSC if they achieved a 30% in seven subjects. The learner must obtain a minimum of 40% in three subjects, 30% in three subjects, and they are allowed to fail one subject. This is the basic pass to obtain an NSC. To obtain admission to a Bachelor's study, which is the admission to higher education institutions, a learner must pass the Home Language at 40% and pass the Language of Learning and Teaching at 30%. The NSC Promotional Requirements noted the various levels of pass requirements to cater to learners’ different performance levels.

Mr Poliah stated that it is impossible to have a one-size-fits-all system, given that learners perform at different levels. DBE needs to accommodate the different performance levels to ensure that a learner leaves the system with at least an NSC certificate.

Scope and Size of the 2021 Examination
Measuring the scope and size of the 2021 examination, DBE looks at the number of full-time and part-time learners, question papers, scripts, exam centres, invigilators, and markers (totaled 49 437). DBE also compares 2020 and 2021 to track any changes. There had been an increase in the number of full-time candidates from 610 484 in 2020 to 733 198 in 2021. DBE compared the full-time enrolment from 2017 to 2021. There is consistency in the number of learners from 2017 to 2020 but there is a significant jump in 2021. The increase results from many factors, but it also means that DBE is retaining and promoting more learners. The change in the assessment regime has contributed to the improvement and increase in numbers.

For part-time enrolments, there has been an improvement in the number of learners that entered from 117 000 in 2020 to 163 000 in 2021 across all provinces.

Enrolment in Terms of Gender
Enrolment in terms of gender is an important factor that DBE monitors. The same trend continues from previous years, where 55.3% of enrolments are girl learners, and 44.7% are boy learners. This is the trend across all provinces.

NSC Subject Enrolments (2017-2021)
There has been an improvement in subject enrolments when comparing 2020 to 2021 across all the subjects listed in the presentation. Refer to the briefing document on slide 31. Mr Poliah also highlighted an increase in the NSC Home Language Subject Enrolment from 2017 to 2021. There had been a slight increase from 12 000 to 15 000, but it is an area where DBE wants to see a more significant increase in enrollment.

On new subjects enrolments, DBE is trying to promote South African Sign Language (SASL) Home Language to get more learners to take the subject. Only 128 learners have taken SASL. Several learners have enrolled in the new technical subjects; however, the number remains low. DBE is working on improving the enrolment for technical subjects. The list of technical subjects was listed.

NSC 2019/20 Progressed Learners
The number of progressed learners decreases from 70 565 in 2020 to 61 789 in 2021. the decrease in progressed learners indicates that the systems’ functionality is improving, removing the need to progress learners to the next Grade. Furthermore, it shows that learners are moving from one Grade to the other on their performance.

Age Analysis
Age analysis is one of the factors that DBE monitors. DBE expects most of their learners to be 17, 18, or 19 years. He highlighted that 2368 of the learners are 18 years old, and there are students aged 33 and 34. However, the numbers around the 33 and 34 age groups are declining. DBE wants to ensure that the older learners are directed to an alternative form of learning and teaching rather than the school environment.

Age Analysis By Gender
In terms of 18 and 19-year-olds, there are more girl learners than boy learners. However, figures for the 33 and 34-year-old learners show more boy than girl learners. A boy learner on average takes longer to achieve a Grade 12.

Enrolment of Special Needs Learners NSC 2020-2021
The number of special needs learners entered in 2021 totaled 2489 learners across the nine provinces. The numbers increased slightly from 2020, but DBE would like those numbers to increase beyond the 2489 mark in 2021.

Correctional Services – Full time and Part-time
DBE administered the NSC Exams in the prisons; however, the numbers have slightly decreased from 133 in 2020 to 120 in 2021. In 2021, 111 full-time and 105 part-time learners in correctional centres wrote the NSC exams.

Social Grant Recipients Enrolled
Social Grant is another factor that DBE monitors and they distinguish between their active and inactive recipients. Active recipients refer to the learners that received a social grant up to their Grade 12. And inactive recipients are learners that received a social grant at some point in their schooling career but not in their Grade 12. There are more inactive recipients at 471 661 and 106 311 active recipients.

Historical Trends
In 1970, there were 43 000 obtaining a matric certificate, and the figure increased to 537 687 in 2021. The NSC performance in 2021 currently sits at 76.4%, which is improved performance. DBE's highest performance was in 2019, with the performance rate at 81.3%.

Overall National Results- 2021
DBE monitors the overall performance across provinces. Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga are of concern because their performance has dropped regardless of having done well in overall performance. DBE’s focus is on ensuring that every province shows an improvement. Mr Poliah gave credit to the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape for the significant improvement. The two provinces are operating from a low base; however, their improvement is good.

Performance of Fee Paying and No Fee-Paying Schools- 2021
DBE compares and monitors the performance of fee-paying and non fee-paying schools. They monitor how provinces operate and function in terms of fee-paying and non fee-paying schools. Mr Poliah commended KwaZulu-Natal for ranking 4th in terms of no fee-paying performance at 74.9% versus fee-paying schools. the Western Cape dropped to 5th place in no fee-paying schools.

NSC Pass By Qualification Type
It is also essential to look at the quality, not just the overall pass rate. It is crucial to look at the pass rates for Bachelor and Diploma qualifications because the bar is raised to 40% and 50%. 256 031 obtained admission to Bachelor and 1777 572 got admission to Diploma studies. When the figures are added together, they indicate that more than 400 000 learners qualify for entry to higher education institutions. More than 60% of learners could be eligible for admission to higher education institutions. It is an important quality indicator.

DBE also compares the Bachelor's pass attainment in fee-paying and no-fee-paying schools across the nine provinces. They compare the trends and provincial performance in terms of bachelor's pass, and currently, DBE is at its highest. the system could go beyond the 36.4% achievement in 2021 On admissions to Bachelors. On the actual numbers, there is a significant increase from 2014 to 2021. There has been a rise in Bachelor passes from 150 752 in 2014 to 256 031 in 2021.

DBE also looks at provincial contribution to the Bachelor's performance in numbers. KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng are the most significant contributors. In terms of provincial contribution by percentage, the Western Cape is the most significant contributor with 45.3%, given its size. When comparing 2020 to 2021, the percentage that achieved a Bachelor pass remains the same at 36.4%. However, the focus is on provinces (Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo) that demonstrated a slight drop.

Mr Poliah explained in terms of quality; DBE wants to point out the various dimensions of their monitoring to ensure that they can present a higher level of performance in the next year.

Types of Pass Per Quintile
DBE compares the performance of the Quintile 1-3 and Quintile 4-5 schools. The most significant contributors of admission to Bachelor studies come from the quintile 1, 2, and 3 schools as 149 648 Bachelor passes come from quintile 1, 2, and 3 schools, and 92 646 come from quintile 4 and 5 schools. Mr Poliah commented that one could argue that the large numbers are attributed to the fact that there are more quintile 1, 2, and 3 schools. However, there could be more schools and learners and they still perform poorly. The performance of these schools is in line with the more significant numbers, which constitutes 61.8% of the Bachelor's attainment.

Performance-Based on Age Analysis
Mr Poliah explained that learners perform the best at the age they are supposed to be in Grade 12 at 91.3% and 88%. However, if they are kept in the system longer, their performance drops. Learners that are 23 and 24 years perform at 40%; however, the percentage increases again with older learners. Those at the age of 34 perform better than those at 24 years.

Progressed Learners
Progressed learners performed the same as 2020 at 37%; however, it is slightly higher in 2021 at 37.8%. progressed learners who moved from Grade 11 to 12 even though they did not meet the requirements, 3 440 of them achieved a Bachelor’s pass, and 8394 obtained admission to Diploma studies. Mr Poliah added that the learners demonstrated that they could go beyond just receiving an NSC given a chance.

School Performance By Quintiles
DBE also looked at the quintile school performance in different categories. Some learners in the schools in quintiles 1, 2, and 3 performed higher than 80%. Mr Poliah explained that 2 691 schools performed above 80%, of which more than 1 700 came from quintiles 1, 2, and 3.

Subject Performance
DBE monitors the subjects at a 30% level that improved and dropped from the previous years. DBE is most concerned about subjects such as Accounting, Economics, Geography, and Mathematical Literacy, where there has been a drop in 2021. Although the decrease is not significant, DBE will be monitoring the performance quite closely.  

Performance at 40% and 50% level is also monitored. The same applies to all home languages and technology subjects. Enrolment in technical subjects is low; however, they are performing above 90%, except for Technical Maths and Science. But there has been an improvement in Technical Maths from 32.4% in 2020 to 60.1% in 2021. Such improvement is the same for Technical Science.

District Performance
The districts are monitored regularly, and the Minister meets with the districts. In 2020, 56 districts performed above 70%, and 19 districts performed below 70%. In 2021, 63 districts performed at 70%, and 12 districts performed below 70%. Focus is getting all the districts performing at 70% and above.

It is essential to highlight the top ten districts, mainly from the Gauteng, Free State, and Western Cape. It is noteworthy; all the Free State districts are part of the top ten. DBE also looks at the bottom ten districts. They are concerned about Limpopo, with six districts in the bottom ten.

Special Needs Education
DBE not only monitors enrolment but performance as well. About 1750 special needs learners passed in 2020, but the number increased to 1937 in 2021. 879 achieved admission to Bachelor studies and 636 admissions to Diploma studies.

Performance of Part-time Candidates
There have been improvements from 2020 to 2021.

Distinctions Per Province 2020-2021
There has been a slight decrease in the percentage of distinctions, but there has been an increase in numbers from 177 435 in 2020 to 211 725 in 2021. DBE also monitors the distinctions per subject and in the key subjects. The look at the number of progressed learners’ distinctions. About six distinctions in Mathematics, five in physical science, and 79 in Life Science came from progressed learners.

Social Grants
DBE monitors the performance of inactive and active recipients. They compared those who wrote and achieved the NSC certificate in 2020 to those in 2021. The performance from both years was similar in terms of percentage. However, there has been an increase in the numbers from 323 287 in 2020 to 410 509 in 2021. The inactive recipients performed at 71.15% and active recipients at 86.36% in 2021. Mr Poliah highlighted that a learner's performance might be impacted by whether they are receiving a social grant.

Correctional Services
Of the 111 that wrote the NSC exam, 99 learners passed the exam. This constitutes an 89.2% pass rate. Of the 105 part-time learners that wrote the exam, 42 passed the exam.

In closing, Mr Poliah reiterated that DBE’s performance is evaluated based on social justice principles. There has been an improvement in access, redress, equity, efficiency, quality, and inclusivity.

DBE does a comparative performance to monitor how they have improved from 2019 to 2021. Umalusi provides clear directives, and based on those directives, DBE comes with a comprehensive improvement plan. They are planning to share the plan with Umalusi and the provincial departments. It forms part of the bases they focus on in 2022. Umalusi monitors the improvement or lack of improvement. The directives are in the main administrative and professional related to question paper development, School-Based Assessment, Exam Administration, Marking, and other areas.

Umalusi (Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training)
Prof John Volmink, Chair of the Council: Umalusi, said that the report focuses on the processes followed by Umalusi for the 2021 National Assessment processes, including the standardisation of the National Senior Certificate (NSC). The organisation has delivered on its quality assurance mandate through the Assessments Standards Committee which played an important role in standardising the 2021 examinations results for each subject.

On 18 January 2022, the Council announced its approval of the 2021 National Examination Results. The approval based on the evidence presented by DBE on the conduct of the 2021 examinations was fair and credible. Although there were a few irregularities reported, the Executive Committee of Council found from the evidence presented there were not any systemic irregularities that could compromise the integrity of the overall examinations.

Mr Mafu Rakometsi, CEO: Umalusi, provided an overview of the Umalusi mandate and regulatory framework. The quality assurance of assessment is conducted to ensure that assessment leading to the award of certificates in schools, adult education centres, and technical and vocational education and training colleges is of the required standard. This is to ensure that the certificates issued by Umalusi are credible.

Umalusi moderates the examination question papers, Practical Assessment Tasks (PAT), and Common Assessment Tasks in the case of Life Orientation. It monitors and moderates School-Based Assessment (SBA), the conduct, administration, and management of assessment and examination processes, marking, and management of concessions and examination irregularities. It is also responsible for the standardisation of assessment outcomes and approval of the release of results.

National Senior Certificate (NSC)
Mr Rakometsi highlighted that the Department of Basic Education (DBE), Independent Examination Board (IEB), and South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI) are the only assessment bodies that administer the National Senior Certificate (NSC). Umalusi also compares the number of enrolments under each body, and it is important to note that there has been an increase in enrolment with the DBE.

Ms Mary-Louise Madalane, Umalusi Senior Manager: Quality Assurance, said Umalusi moderated and approved 162 DBE NSC question papers. It moderated and approved 159 question papers for the November 2021, and three question papers were sourced from the bank as they were approved for previous examinations but not utilised.

There was moderation of 22 subjects for School-Based Assessment (SBA) and nine subjects for Practical Assessment Tasks (PAT) across the nine PEDs as well as oral assessment moderation for four languages in five PED. The SBA sample included schools in Eswatini.

In October 2021 DBE was found ready to conduct NSC examinations. Further, Umalusi monitored a sample of 442 examination centres and 40 marking centres across the nine PEDs. They participated in the marking guideline standardisation meetings of 67 subjects translating to 145 question papers for the examinations. Verification of marking of a sample of 37 subjects was conducted across the nine PEDs.

Umalusi shared its report with DBE. The directives that Mr Poliah spoke about derived from the report provided by Umalusi to DBE.

Moderation of Question Papers
There are different phases for moderation. Once the assessment body has set a question paper, they submit it to Umalusi for the first moderation. [65:28] Any issues may require it to be sent back to Umalusi for a second and third moderation to ensure question papers are fully quality assured. Umalusi needs to be satisfied that the question paper is ready to be administered for the examinations. When the papers were written for 2021, they were fully quality assured. However, DBE needs to address the directives Umalusi issued to ensure future question papers are better than the ones developed for 2021.

Moderation of School-Based Assessment (SBA)
There were no areas of improvement noted. The directives of 2020 have still not been addressed by PEDs in certain subjects. Umalusi sent DBE SBA directives in 2019; however, some are only partially complied with. For example, developing a policy to pronounce on the adjustment/addition of marks during oral moderation – this was a 2019 directive but it was only compliant in 2021.

State of Readiness
The State of Readiness was announced in October 2021. Umalusi issued DBE directives, which they are gradually complying with. However, they are partially compliant with ensuring that “security features at districts/nodal points are evaluated and improved. Storage facilities should have features such as double locking systems, alarms in working condition, and surveillance cameras”. Areas of concern: staff shortages at various levels of the system; high vacancy rate of examination-related staff across PEDs; and marker shortages in subjects likely to attract high enrolments. This is an area of concern, which has shown no signs of improvement.

The directives were sent prior to the examinations and different provinces put in the necessary measures to address the issues. However, it is unclear if the measures were temporary or permanent.

Audit of appointed markers
Umalusi does an audit of markers appointed by the examination bodies prior to marking to ensure that the markers are in line with the appointment regulations. There are a few non-compliance issues: PED verification of qualification of markers at all levels. Umalusi needs to see the qualifications of all markers appointed to mark the NSC exams. Credentials for some of the markers in Limpopo were not shared with Umalusi. The new directive issued in 2021: There is compliance with the required ratio of 1:5 deputy chief markers to senior markers in Western Cape for Accounting Paper 1.

Monitoring of Writing of Exams
442 centres were monitored. There was notable compliance with DBE health and safety protocols across the examination centres under COVID-19 conditions. Monitoring and evaluation of invigilators' performance: There needs to be consequence management for invigilators involved in such issues. The challenge with load shedding requires that DBE have a backup plan for electricity supply in case of power outages for all examination centres administering computer-based examinations. The new directive issued in 2021: Controls are in place to enforce compliance to the health and safety protocols issued for the conduct, administration, and management of the examinations. They were partially compliant.

Marking Guideline Standardisation
Umalusi attended and participated in 142 marking guideline standardisation meetings, largely via Microsoft Teams. Only two subjects (Marine Sciences and South African Sign Language Home Language) were attended onsite. There were not any serious challenges with marking guidelines. However, new directives were issued. New directive issued in 2021: Provincial internal moderators submit their detailed pre-marking reports timeously. Only 58% of the question papers comply with the criterion in all respects.

Monitoring of Marking
Monitoring and verification of marking are done at the marking centres. DBE was compliant with most of the directives sent out. Partially complaint: All training material is delivered on time to allow the determined norm time to be achieved without pressure, and each PED provides centre managers with audited lists of appointed markers for verification purposes.

DBE was given a directive to address any issues for papers arriving late at marking centres. Umalusi visits the marking centres to verify the audit on markers. If they do not find the necessary documentation, it cannot confirm who is appointed. It makes their work difficult and unable to attest to the kind of markers who were at marking centres.

New directive issued in 2021: Centre manager replacements are fully acquainted with the centre management protocols; all marking centres are equipped with adequate communication facilities, and all marking centres have valid OHS certificates.

Verification of Marking
Umalusi sampled a number of subjects to verify for 2021 and DBE has complied or partially complied with the directives issued in the past. DBE needs to address the quality of marking in Mathematical Literacy, especially in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal. This is the same for Visual Arts in Eastern Cape, Sesotho in Gauteng, and Free State. For Civil Technology: Civil Services and Woodworking and Mechanical Technology, Umalusi did not sample for verification of marking in 2021. There is a concern that some of the markers for South African Sign Language HL are not Grade 12 educators.

Standardisation and Resulting
Mr Rakometsi explained that standardisation is a process used to eliminate the effect of factors other than the learners’ knowledge, abilities, and aptitude on their performance. It could be errors in the question papers set by experts such as punctuation or an omission of a bracket. Umalusi standardises to achieve comparability and consistency of the results from one year to the next.

There are four standardisation principles. 1. Adjustment should not exceed 10% of the historical average in either direction (upward or downward) 2. If the distribution of the raw marks is below or above the historical average, the marks may be adjusted either way subject to limitations 3. In the case of an individual candidate, the adjustment effected should not exceed half of the raw mark obtained by the candidate 4. After considering qualitative and quantitative reports, Umalusi formulates positions on each subject.

The results by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), DBE, IEB, and SACAI per Qualification have been standardised by Umalusi. 67 subjects were submitted for standardisation by the DBE. 35 of the subjects were raw marks, 27 were adjusted (mainly upwards), and 5 were adjusted (mainly downwards).

Umalusi notes that the challenges for standardisation include poor performance in the NSC SASL Home Language and negative or positive impact of the structural changes in some subjects. The challenge may stem from the fact that the subject is not ready to be examined at this level. Therefore, DBE needs to double its efforts in ensuring that the subject can be examined in NSC examinations.

Umalusi recommends that DBE strengthen its security measures around the collection and storage of question papers at all levels prior to the administration of the examination to prevent early unauthorised access to question papers. They need to intensify the training of teachers in the development of good quality assessment tasks and marking guidelines, especially the development and application of rubrics. Learners and teachers should be provided with effective feedback to enhance learner performance and the quality of assessment tasks. To improve teaching and learning, DBE must use assessment and examination data. A further recommendation is that all districts closely train and monitor invigilators.

DBE is required to block the results of candidates implicated in irregularities including the candidates involved in group copying pending the outcomes of further DBE investigations and Umalusi verification.

The Chair said that it is important that the leakages are dealt with systematically so that they are not regarded as simply "an issue". Are the people at the printing press vetted? To what extent does the Maths, Science and Technology Grant assist in achieving the NDP? How does it impact the need to acquire critical skills required for improving the economy? The country has a system to produce its own engineers, but how does the money ensure that we reach that goal?

Ms A Maleka (ANC; Mpumalanga) said that the underperformance of learners in Mathematics and Science is an issue. She mentioned two schools, Lindile and iThafa Secondary Schools, in her province whose performance keeps dropping. Students encounter challenges in Mathematics and Science. One school had written to DBE through the circuit and the province asking if changes could be made or even add agricultural science as a subject. Mpumalanga is successful in the area of agricultural practices. The pass rate for Lindile dropped to 14%. How will DBE assist? The province is considering closing the two schools because of the lack of support from DBE. What strategy can DBE come up with to assist learners from those schools?

Ms D Christians (DA; Northern Cape) was concerned about the figure of 29 000 for the number of learners that did not write the NSC exam and the learner dropout trend. What are the statistics for learner dropouts per province? Such statistics will assist Members in those provinces to identify mitigating factors to prevent dropouts and get learners back into the system. This is due to learners being disengaged. How is DBE getting the learners back? How are they helping them get their matric? The drop in special needs learners who sit examinations is also a matter of concern. It seems like the special needs learners are not a priority for DBE. Special needs schools in the Northern Cape do not receive much attention and are full. Parents struggle to get their children into special needs schools. The poor performance for SASL Home Language is problematic. It is another thing that DBE is not prioritizing. What is DBE doing to ensure the performance of special needs schools improves?

She asked Umalusi for progress on the investigation of exam paper leaks, especially for Life Sciences and Agricultural Sciences. The papers were leaked in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, which were circulated on WhatsApp groups. This impacted a number of learners. What is the stance on the learners? Have their results been released? How will the storage and security of papers be upgraded?

Ms Christians added that the shortage of markers is another concern. How are provinces getting markers for 2022? Northern Cape is not compliant with moderation in some areas of the province and she will follow up with the province.

Ms M Gillion (ANC; Western Cape) said that during the oversight visit in the Western Cape two years ago, they found that most of the schools, excluding most Model C schools, do not have mathematics as a subject. The majority of the schools have Mathematical Literacy. Her constituency, Overberg, took on a project to help learners before and after the release of the matric results to apply to higher learning institutions. DBE should take note that although the Bachelor’s pass rate has increased, on the ground it is a different story. Children do not have mathematics teachers and teaching of mathematical literacy is poor in her constituency. Regardless of the Bachelor’s pass, it was difficult to get learners into TVET colleges because of low marks in Mathematical Literacy and even worse for Mathematics. Although Mathematics and Science have been made a national priority by government, it still remains a big challenge on the ground. She requested DBE to do an investigation, especially in the Overberg district in the Western Cape. The region is in need of a programme to help improve mathematics. If there is a potential for mathematics, why is DBE not employing mathematics teachers? Why are children not being assisted in furthering their careers? She asked Umalusi what it is doing to get compliance in all the gaps it has alerted to in its presentation.

Ms S Luthuli (EFF; KwaZulu-Natal) said that the same question on underperforming teachers has been asked multiple times in the past. DBE needs to do something about the underperforming schools. Measuring the performance of paying versus no fee-paying schools should not be a matter of concern because at the end of the day “teachers are teachers” and some teachers are lazy. DBE needs to look into AM Moola Secondary School in Ndwedwe, because it is either management or the teachers who are not taking their duties seriously. The pass rate is close to zero, yet the school serves a lot of children. The school has good infrastructure, however, the performance is bad. She added matric markers need to be those who teach matric.

The Chair highlighted that in Limpopo and other provinces, there are schools that depend on foreign teachers to teach mathematics, science, and other technical subjects. Most of them are waiting for their work permits to be processed. What kind of support can DBE and Umalusi give them? What can be done to ensure the process speeds up? The worry and waiting for a visa to be processed may affect their ability to teach as they are constantly worried that they might get arrested. [108:44 spoke in Sepedi]. It may result in teachers opting to work for private schools or greener pastures.

DBE response
Mr Poliah clarified that there was not a typical leakage of a question paper in 2021. However, in 2020 there was a leakage of papers in Mathematics and Physical Science, which originated at two of the printing presses. In 2020, an audit was done on all the printing plants, security was strengthened, and vetting was done. As a result, it was not a typical leakage. However, culprits have resulted in targeting school principals, who receive the papers on the morning of the exam. Depending on the distance of the school from the distribution or storage point, principals would collect the papers at 6:30am. The question paper may have been made available at 8:15am. Due to the limited time and exposure, the compromise was minimal. DBE will come back to the Select Committee to present on measures to ensure that leakages do not happen in the future.

Investigation into Leakages
On the investigation into the 2020 leakages, the matter is with the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) and the investigation is moving at a slow pace. DBE can report that one person from the printing plant in Gauteng and one nurse from KZN have been arrested for the leakage. Their appearance in court was remanded. DBE is relying on the courts at the moment to adjudicate and provide a decision on this matter.

Performance in Mathematics and Science
There is a comprehensive plan to improve performance in Mathematics and Science.

Learners that did not write
The number of learners that did not write the exam is still relatively high. However, compared to previous years, 29 000 is low. The 29 000 includes learners who did not write all the exams and may have missed one or two of the exams. They are considered absent.

Dropout Rate
The information will be made available for the Committee to assist in dealing with the problem.

Special Needs Education
Last year, the Minister convened a summit where recommendations were made to improve special needs education. At some point, the information will be made available.

Staff Shortage
The DG is committed to raising this with PED Heads of Department to ensure critical posts are dealt with.

Moderation of School-Based Assessment
Moderation of school-based assessment is a weak area. However, there is monitoring of the moderation besides those done at provincial and national levels. DBE starts monitoring moderation at the school level. Strategies will be put in place to improve school-based assessments.

Mathematical Literacy vs Mathematics
A Mathematics, Science and Technology (MST) plan will be presented to ensure that learners obtain a reasonable level in Mathematical Literacy or Mathematics to grant them admission into higher education.

Gaps Indentified By Umalusi
DBE will be reporting to Umalusi on a regular basis on the shortcomings.

Schools with Zero Pass Rate
Schools with a zero pass rate become the main focus and are visited. An audit is done to determine what caused the zero pass rate and a plan is put in place to ensure that does not occur again. The districts play a role in providing support.

Work Visas
DBE will ensure that there is something done about this.

The Chairperson asked Deputy Minister Reginah Mhuale to respond to some of the questions.

Teacher Development
The Deputy Minister referred to scarce skills like Mathematics teachers, where it is hard to deploy teachers in rural areas. DBE has tried to get matriculants from rural areas to go and train to be teachers. This is part of their Initial Teacher Education Programme. In many rural areas most of the mathematics teachers are Funza Lushaka bursary graduates. DBE will work closely with the Limpopo PED to see how its teacher recruitment is and the challenges. DBE recruits based on its priorities, which explains why the recruitment of foreign educators has declined.

On the intake number and pass rate for Mathematics, DBE is not yet close to reaching its 2030 intake and pass rate goal. The current focus is on intake and performance. Gauteng and Free State are concerning because they are not doing well on intake in mathematics. The Deputy Minister visited the provinces and noted that they are strengthening the maths foundation of learners. The primary schools are doing well in maths, which could mean they can take mathematics when they get to high school. DBE is encouraging provinces to ensure that if a learner takes Accounting or Physical Science, they do it with Mathematics because universities do not take learners who do these subjects with only Maths Literacy. DBE had a successful lekgotla, which looked at the weaknesses in the system and how to improve education in the country.

Poor Performance of Schools
On Lindile and iThafa Seondary Schools in Mpumalanga, DBE has made an attempt to engage with the school but has been unsuccessful. However, it will try to engage the Mpumalanga Education Department. Lindile is even a more significant challenge, despite being supported by Sasol. However, DBE will try engaging with the leadership of the school.

Dropout Rate
The Deputy Minister said that DBE does not necessarily have 29 000 learners that dropped out. These are learners who did not write the full NSC but DBE will provide the statistics for dropouts.

Security is being strengthened in all provinces. The leakages are amongst the learners that are assisted by certain universities – not in the province that leaked the papers. There is one institution that is responsible for some of the leakages and DBE will be dealing with them and the leakages that happened via WhatsApp. The learners complain about the leakages because it impacts them too, especially since they have studied hard.

Accountability of Teachers
DBE has held meetings with underperforming schools and has required them to provide improvement plans. The plan leads to general improvement. DBE can present, with the provinces, the improvement plans for 2022, if the Committee wishes DBE to do so. As a result of Covid-19, the Class of 2022 did not cover their entire curriculum in Grades 10 and 11.

Racism in Schools
The responsibility in tackling this does not hinge on DBE alone. As a society, South Africans need to work together and accept each other. The social cohesion programme run by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, of which DBE is a partner, must be strengthened so that learners and teachers can learn to accept each other.

Mr Rakometsi stated that leakages undermine the work and preparation that goes into the NSC Examination. It should not happen. Umalusi focuses on quality assurance and oversight, therefore such questions cannot be asked by it as this do not fall within its scope of expertise. Umalusi audits the systems and alert DBE about any challenges. Then it monitor DBE on its progress in addressing that particular challenge. DBE needs to ensure that qualified markers are employed.

The Chair said the Committee will send additional written questions to DBE. He again spoke about the high-quality Bachelor and Diploma passes achieved in 2021, and noted those who passed with distinctions in critical subjects in the Class of 2021.

Meeting adjourned.

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