2022 NSC Examination Outcomes: DBE & Umalusi briefing; with Deputy Minister

NCOP Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture

22 March 2023
Chairperson: Mr I Ntsube (ANC, Free State)
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Meeting Summary


The Select Committee on Education & Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture (National Council of Provinces) met on a virtual platform for a briefing on the 2022 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examinations outcomes by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training (Umalusi).

The presentation from the DBE covered the size and shape of the sector, background & context, NSC promotional requirements, the number enrolled/written, scope and size of the NSC examination, extraordinary learner support programme, standardisation, matric historical trends, the performance of the class of 2022, and NSC passes by qualification type, age and gender.

The presentation from Umalusi covered Umalusi’s mandate and regulatory framework, the framework for quality assurance of assessment, the quality assurance processes undertaken in 2022, the scope of the 2022 quality assurance of assessment, areas of improvement, directives for compliance and improvement, recurring areas of non-compliance, standardisation and resulting, the “problematic” question in DBE Mathematics Paper 2, recommendations and conclusion.

The Committee noted that the presentations were detailed and comprehensive. The Committee raised issues concerning examination irregularities about invigilators assisting students, the 30% pass rate, the WOZA Matric Programme, Second Chance Matric Programme, special needs learners, the performance of no-fee-paying schools, the overlap in subjects taught at TVET colleges and the NVC, security of question paper storage points,  the audit of SBA systems and the throughput rate.

Meeting report

The Committee Secretary noted that the Chairperson was absent due to being abroad and that the Committee needed to decide on who would chair that meeting.

The Committee decided that Mr I Nstube (ANC, Gauteng) would be the meeting’s Acting Chairperson.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the Committee for its vote of confidence in him. He asked for the agenda to be flighted and if there were any apologies.

The Committee Secretary noted that the only apologies she had received were from Mr Nchabeleng, who was abroad and from the Director- General (DG) of the Department of Basic Education, Mr Hubert Mathanzima Mweli, who was in Kwa-Zulu Natal monitoring infrastructure projects. She said Mr Mweli would, however, still be in the meeting but had apologised for his poor internet connection.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the Committee Secretary and urged the Committee to continue with the business of the day. He said there would be a briefing from the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on the 2022 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination outcomes. He asked if the Deputy Minister or someone from the Department would take the Committee through the briefing.

Opening Remarks from the Deputy Minister of Basic Education

Ms Reginah Mhaule, Deputy Minister, DBE, thanked the Committee for inviting the Department and Umalusi to present the matric results. She noted that the presentation was overdue. Ms Mhaule shared her deepest condolences with the Committee for the loss of Ms M Gillion (ANC, Western Cape). She shared that Ms Gillion was always present and would be missed for her humility, respect and firmness.

Deputy Minister Mhaule said she was accompanied by Umalusi and the DBE team led by Mr Mweli , Dr Mafu Rakometsi, Chief Executive Officer of Umalusi and Dr Rufus Poliah, Chief Director at the DBE. She noted if Mr Mweli was cut off, the other leaders would take over.

Deputy Minister Mhaule asked Mr Mweli to take the Committee through the presentation.

Briefing by the Department of Basic Education NSC 2022 class results

Mr Hubert Mathanzima Mweli, DG, DBE, thanked Ms Mhaule and greeted the Committee. He said the DBE would start with its presentations which would then be followed by Umalusi’s presentation. The presentation would be led by Dr Poliah, Ms Priscilla Ogunbanjo, Director: National Assessment and Public Examination, DBE and Dr Moses Simelane, Chief Director at the DBE.

Mr Mweli said on a lighter note that he was in Dr Poliah’s hometown and that was why he had to take the baton today.

Dr Rufus Poliah, Chief Director: National Assessments and Public Examinations, DBE, thanked Mr Mweli and said sharing the 2022 NSC examination results was a special opportunity. He noted that the presentation was long and asked for an indication of how much time he had to present.

The Acting Chairperson said both the DBE and Umalusi had to present and therefore the DBE had until 11:40am to present. That would allow the Committee an opportunity to engage with the presentations.

Dr Poliah proceeded with the presentation.

Education Statistics briefly

The size of the schooling system was as follows:

  • There were 13 419 971 learners, with 12 7006 157 learners in public schools and 703 092 in independent schools.
  • There were 450 993 educators, with 405 050 in public schools and 42 073 in independent schools.
  • There were 24 871 schools, with 22 740 public schools and 2 154 independent schools.

NSC Full Time Cohort 2021 -2022

  • In 2021, 733 198 learners entered and 703 599 wrote.
  • In 2022, 752 003 learners entered and 725 146 wrote.
  • The difference between the number of full-time learners who wrote in 2021 and 2022 was 21 547.

Candidates Enrolled/Wrote (Part-time) 2021-2022

  • In 2021, 163 950 learners entered and 96 493 (58.9%) wrote.
  • In 2022, 168 631 learners entered and 109 419 (64.9%) wrote.

Enrolment in terms of Gender

  • In 2021, 55.3% of those enrolled were female and 44,7% were male.
  • In 2022, 56.2% of those enrolled were female and 43,8% were male.

NSC 2021 / 2022 Progressed Learners

  • In 2021, 61 789 learners were progressed.
  • In 2022, 52 961 learners were progressed.

Enrolment of Special Needs Learners NSC 2021-2022

  • In 2021, 2489 special needs learners entered and 2397 wrote.
  • In 2022, 1132 special needs learners entered and 1092 wrote.

Correctional Services – Full Time & Part Time

  • In 2021, 120 full-time learners entered and 111 wrote. In the same year 127 part-time learners entered and 105 wrote.
  • In 2022, 176 full-time learners entered and 171 wrote. In the same year 104 part-time learners and 102 wrote.

Performance Of the Class Of 2022

  • In the Eastern Cape, 94 993 learners wrote and 73 386 (77.3%) achieved.
  • In the Free State, 36 607 learners wrote and 32 397(88.5%) achieved.
  • In Gauteng, 133 841 learners wrote and 113 006 (84.4%) achieved.
  • In KwaZulu-Natal, 164 308 learners wrote and 136 388 (83.0%) achieved.
  • In Limpopo, 110 295 learners wrote and 79 493 (72.1%) achieved.
  • In Mpumalanga, 67 367 learners wrote and 51 751 (76.8%) achieved.
  • In the North West, 43 823 learners wrote and 34 960 (79.8%) achieved.
  • In the Northern Cape, 13 674 learners wrote and 10 072 (74.2%) achieved.
  • In the Western Cape, 60 338 learners wrote and 49 102 (81.4%) achieved.
  • In total, 725 146 learners wrote and 580 555 (80.1%) achieved.

Performance of the Class Of 2022 by Fee Paying Status

  • 198 034 fee-paying learners and 170 080(85.9%) achieved.
  • 25 354 independent learners and 23 074(91.0%) achieved.
  • 501 758 no fee-paying learners and 387 401(77.2%%) achieved.

Comparison of NSC Passes by Gender For 2022

  • 317 906 male learners wrote and 253 661 (43.7%) achieved.
  • 407 240 female learners wrote and 326 894 (56.3%) achieved.

NSC Passes by Type of Qualification: 2022

  • Bachelor                       = 278 814 (38.4%)
  • Diploma                        = 193 357 (26.7%)
  • Higher Certificate          = 108 159(14.9%)
  • NSC                             = 117
  • Endorsed                      = 108

Provincial Inclusive Basket

  • The throughput rate:
  • Eastern Cape    = 66.0%
  • Free State         = 58.5%
  • Gauteng           = 66.4%
  • Kwazulu-Natal    = 66.0%
  • Limpopo           = 71.2%
  • Mpumalanga.    = 72.4%
  • North-West       = 61.4%
  • Northern Cape  = 59.4%
  • Western Cape   = 70.5%
  • NATIONAL        = 66.8%

Top Ten Districts

  • Motheo in the Free State, 9 668 (90.8%) achieved.
  • Fezile Dabi in the Free State, 5 628 (90.4%) achieved.
  • Johannesburg West in Gauteng, 5 704 (89.7%) achieved.
  • Tshwane South in Gauteng, 12 054 (89.0%) achieved.
  • Gauteng North in Gauteng, 2 041 (87.7%) achieved.
  • Xhariep in the Free State ,1 152 (87.5%) achieved.
  • Thabo Mofutsanyana in the Free State, 9 067 (87.3%) achieved.
  • Ugu in KwaZulu-Natal, 8 853 (87.2%) achieved.
  • Umkhanyakude in KwaZulu-Natal, 13 246 (86.3%) achieved.
  • Johannesburg North in Gauteng, 7 792 (86.2%) achieved.

Bottom Ten Districts

  • Vhembe East in Limpopo, 13 663 (72.3%) achieved.
  • Frances Baard in the Northern Cape, 3 558 (72.1%) achieved.
  • Chris Hani West in the Eastern Cape 4 319 (72.0%) achieved.
  • Joe Gqabi in the Eastern Cape, 3 470 (71.7%) achieved.
  • OR Tambo Coastal in the Eastern Cape, 9 527 (71.2%) achieved.
  • Vhembe West in Limpopo, 9 210 (70.8%) achieved.
  • Mopani East in Limpopo, 8 246 (68.4%) achieved.
  • John Taolo Gaetsewe in the Northern Cape, 2 598 (68.0%) achieved.
  • Sekhukhune South in Limpopo, 7 784 (66.8%) achieved.
  • Sekhukhune East in Limpopo, 7 206 (64.5%) achieved.



  • A total of 752 003 Full Time candidates enrolled to write the NSC examination.
  • More learners wrote (725 146) than in 2021 (703 599).
  • 580 555 FT candidates attained an NSC, an increase of 41 819 from 2021.
  • 22 783 more candidates attained admission to Bachelor Studies compared to 2021.
  • A total of 448 392 (71.27%) of social grant learners attained an NSC.


  • 387 401 candidates from “no-fee” schools obtained an NSC compared to 170080 from “Fee paying” schools.
  • 77.2% of the “no-fee” learners achieved a NSC.
  • 169 903 (33.9%) of the 501 758 “no fee” learners attained admission to bachelor’s studies.
  • 273 065 (55.7%) of the 490 231 "no-fee" learners had access to a Higher Education study.
  • The admission to bachelor studies for “no-fee” schools increased to 169 703 (64.4%), compared to 93 899 (35.6%) from “fee-paying” schools.
  • 3 235 (6.7%) up from last years (6.68%) of the progressed learners obtained admission to Bachelor Studies.


  • 422 478 girls, compared to 329 522 boys entered the NSC examination (92 956) more girls than boys)
  • 326 894 girls, compared 253 661 boys, passed the 2022 NSC examinations.
  • 161 235 girls attained admission to Bachelor Studies compared to 117 579 boys.
  • 65.0 % of the distinctions were attained by girl candidates, including distinctions in critical subjects such as Accounting, Business Studies, Economics, Mathematics, and Physical Science.


  • Improvement in Agricultural Sciences from 75.4 % to 75.8%, Economics from 67.9% to 71.5%, Geography from 74.3% to 81.3%, Accounting from 74.7% to 75.4% and Physical Sciences from 69.9% to 74.6%.
  • Increase in subject performance at the 40% level: Agricultural Sciences from 48.7% to 52.0%, Economics from 40.3% to 46.9%%; Geography from 43.2% to 52.2%; and Physical Sciences from 44.4% to 49.7.
  • The number of bachelors increased from 256 031 in 2021 to 278 814 in 2022.
  • The number of distinctions increased from 211 745 in 2021 to 218 770 in 2022.
  • 472 171 candidates (65.1%), who achieved admission to Bachelor and Diploma studies, were eligible to register for studies at higher education institutions.
  • Only 4 of the 75 districts were performing below 70%.
  • 42 of the 75 districts performed at 80% and above compared to 26 in 2021.


  • 20 975 (43.4%) of the progressed learners that wrote all seven subjects met the requirements of the NSC.
  • Progressed learners got distinctions in 238 subjects.
  • 79.0% of the learners with special education needs, who wrote the 2022 NSC examinations met the pass requirements of the NSC.
  • Learners of 18 years old passed at 88.2%, 17 at 90.6%, 16 at 92.4% and 15 at 83.9% met the requirements of NSC.
  • 775 630 out of 1 177 089 learners in Grade 1 in 2011 enrolled for Grade 12 in 2022 and 580 555 passed.
  • Only 3.9% of learners who enrolled did not write the Exams.
  • 47 (71%) were retained on raw marks, three adjusted downwards and 16 upward in terms of Umalusi standardisation decision.
  • In terms of standardisation outcomes of Umalusi of the 66 subjects, 47 (71.2%) were retained as raw marks, 16 (24.2%) adjusted upwards and 3 (4.5%) downwards.


  • Offered the Fourth examination in Sign language to 210 learners of which 162 (77%) achieved NSC.
  • A total of 1092 learners with special needs wrote the NSC Examination and 893 (79%) learners attained the NSC.
  • 439 learners with special needs attained admission to Bachelor Studies, 264 achieved admission to Diploma Studies and 108 achieved admission to Higher Certificate Studies.

Umalusi Directives

a) The DBE had developed an improvement plan to address the directives for compliance and improvement issued by Umalusi at the Approval Meeting on 12 January 2023.

b) The directives were in the main administrative, and professional as they related to question paper development and School Based Assessment.

c) An improvement strategy which was five-pronged in its approach would be implemented:

  • Intensive collaborative review of all national and provincial examination and assessment processes.
  • Review of question papers that presented challenges.
  • Standard setting and planning meetings at national and provincial levels.
  • Training sessions for examiners, subject advisors, SBA moderators, markers and other professionals involved in examinations and assessment.
  • Intensive monitoring of the entire examination cycle.


  • Despite the challenges, the Class of 2022 has demonstrated its resilience and resolve to overcome the odds.
  • This indicates that the schooling system was maturing and developing a capability to deal with unexpected challenges.
  • The system has shown significant improvements across all areas.
  • Commendation and appreciation to learners, parents, educators and all stakeholders.


  • It was recommended that the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture, note and discuss the report on the outcomes of the 2022 NSC examinations.

(See attached for detailed presentation)

Briefing by Umalusi

The Acting Chairperson asked Umalusi to proceed with its presentation.

Professor Yunus Ballim, Chairperson, Umalusi Council, greeted the Committee, Deputy Minister Mhaule and everyone in attended. Professor Ballim introduced himself and his delegation which included Dr Rakometsi, Ms Zodwa Modimakwane, Executive Manager: Quality Assurance and Monitoring, Mr Emmanuel Sibanda, Executive Manager, Ms Mary-Louise Madalane, Senior Manager:  Evaluation and Accreditation, Dr Eva Sujee, Senior Manager: Qualifications, Curriculum and Certification Unit and Mr Biki Lepota, Senior Manager: Public Relations and Communication.

Professor Ballim said he was grateful for the opportunity to brief the Committee. Umalusi conducted the 2022 November National Senior Certificate examinations and assessments which led to Umalusi approving the release of the results on 16 January 2023.

He said the approval was given to the DBE, the Department of Higher Education and Training, the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) and the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI). Professor Ballim Said Dr Rakometsi and Ms Madalane would lead the presentation.

He reiterated that the presentation focus was on the scope of the quality assurance of the assessment process that identified areas of improvement and, lastly the recurring areas of non-compliance together with issues relating to the standardisation of examination results and the resulting processes and a way forward by way of conclusion.

He asked to make a few comments. Professor Ballim said Umalusi relied on consistently applied and defensible standardisation principles in adjusting marks. In turn, parents, learners, higher education leaders and employers all relied on those persistently applied education principles to ascertain the reliability and validity of the results received. He added that it was that which gave the DBE, institutions and other stakeholder holders confidence in the results received by the learners. Secondly, while irregularities were identified during the writing and marking examinations, those had not compromised the overall credibility and integrity of the 2022 NSC results. He said that was why the Executive Committee of Humanity Council approved releasing the results. For that reason, Umalusi commended the DBE for successfully administering a very large and complex process and system and conducting and managing the 2022 NSC examination competently.

He congratulated all the assessment bodies for the improved overall results for the class of 2022. He singled out the DBE again and said that given the number of learners, the DBE was responsible for, the DBE’s task was complex. The DBE had to ensure that over 720 000 candidates across the country received the correct question paper at the right time and at the correct venue. It was also to ensure that scripts were collected and marked properly, that marks were verified, and transferred onto the computer system, and that marks were submitted for standardisation and implementation. Implementing the decisions on the system for the resulting process was done with proper attention to the integrity of the process. He said that deserved to be commended.

Dr Mafu Rakometsi, Chief Executive Officer, Umalusi, proceeded with the presentation.

Briefing on the November 2022 National Senior Certificate Examination

Framework for Quality Assurance of Assessment

National Senior Certificate

  • The National Senior Certificate examinations were administered by three Assessment bodies (Department of Basic Education (DBE), Independent Examinations Board (IEB) and South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (SACAI). All three assessment bodies were quality assured and certificated by Umalusi.

Quality Assurance Processess Undertaken in 2022

Overview of the Quality Assurance of Assessment and Examination Processes: DBE

  • Umalusi moderated and approved 162 NSC question papers for that examination. That included backup question papers for Life Orientation, Information Technology paper 1 and Computer Applications Technology paper 1.
  • Umalusi sampled ten NSC subjects for school-based assessment (SBA) moderation, across the nine provincial education departments (PED). The evidence of Practical Assessment Tasks (PAT) was moderated as part of the SBA for subjects with a practical component.
  • The DBE’s state of readiness to conduct the November 2022 NSC examinations was reported on 14 October 2022.
  • Umalusi monitored a sample of 400 examination centres and ten marking centres.
  • Umalusi participated in the marking guideline standardisation meetings of 59 subjects comprising 139 question papers for the November 2022 examinations. Umalusi approved and signed-off marking guidelines of all those question papers.
  • Umalusi verified the marking of 37 subjects across the nine PED.
  • The DBE presented a total of 66 subjects for the standardisation of the November 2022 National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.
  • All identified irregularities were managed per the Regulations Pertaining to the Conduct, Administration and Management of the National Senior Certificate Examinations by the Provincial Examination Irregularities Committees (PEIC) and ratified by the National Examinations Irregularities Committee (NEIC).
  • A detailed draft report, covering all the quality assurance of assessment processes, was shared with the Department of Basic Education.


Moderation of Question Papers

Directives for Compliance and Improvement

The DBE was urged to:

a) Design differentiated training sessions for groups of personnel involved in developing question papers.

b) Present to Umalusi the management plans and evidence of such training.

c) Ensure that questions were not taken verbatim from the past three years’ question papers.

Moderation of Sba, Pat and Oral Assessment

Directives for Compliance and Improvement

The DBE had to ensure that:

  • The PED capacitated and supported the teachers teaching SASL Home Language (Eastern Cape) in subject policy prescripts.
  • The PED continued to upskill the teachers in question setting and, in the ability, to measure levels of question difficulty in Mathematical Literacy (Gauteng).
  • The PED strengthened internal moderation processes and upskilled teachers on moderation practices to improve the implementation of the SBA process, such as in Geography (Mpumalanga) and the Marine Sciences (Western Cape).
  • The PED capacitated teachers on assessment task presentation (technical layout of assessment tasks).

State of Readiness

Directives for Compliance and Improvement

The DBE had to ensure that:

a) A long-term solution to address the staff shortage at PED level was implemented.

b) Major criteria were adhered to as determined for storage and nodal points.

Audit of Appointed Markers

Directives for Compliance and Improvement

The DBE had to ensure that:

  • The PED adhered to the stipulated ratio of 1:5 senior marker to markers and deputy chief marker to senior markers.
  • The PED obtained authorisation from the Director-General and/or HOD for deviation from policy on appointment of markers.

Monitoring of the Writing of the Examinations

Directives for Compliance and Improvement

The DBE had to ensure that:

a) Disciplinary measures were imposed on invigilators who failed to uphold their roles and responsibilities.

b) Innovative ways were used to minimise examination irregularities.

Marking Guidelines Standardisation

The DBE was required to:

a) Ensure that all provincial internal moderators and chief markers meet the pre-marking requirements.

Monitoring of the Marking

Directives for Compliance and Improvement

The DBE had to ensure that:

a) Reserve lists of appointed markers were available at all centres.

b) All marking guidelines were made available before the arrival of markers.

c) Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) certificates at all centres were valid.

Verification of Marking

Directives for Compliance and Improvement

The DBE had to ensure that:

a) The internal moderation of the marking of South African Sign Language Home Language was intensified.

b) The PED complied with the 1:5 ratio for the appointment of senior markers to markers, deputy chief markers to senior markers, respectively, was adhered to.

Standardisation and Resulting

In 2022:

1. The number of instructional offerings standardised      = 66

2. Raw marks                                                                = 47 (71.2%)

3. Adjusted (mainly upwards)                                         = 16 (24.2%)

4. Adjusted (mainly downwards)                                     = 3 (4.5%)

Serious Challenges Observed

a) The continued poor learner performance in NSC SASL Home Language was worrisome.

b) Emerging trends relating to assistance by invigilator and teachers (i.e. examination officials), was worrisome.


  • The DBE had to build capacity in internal moderators to enhance the quality of internal moderation.
  • The DBE had to monitor compliance to policy prescripts as provided for, for effective implementation of the internal assessment.
  • The DBE had to strive to invest in beefing up the security at storage points. The norms and standard on security of question paper, as it stood, required close monitoring of its implementation across all levels of the system.
  • Invigilators found conflicted by being involved in advantaging learners unlawfully, had to be charged with serious misconduct.

EXCO Approval Statement

Having studied all the evidence presented, the Executive Committee (EXCO) of Umalusi Council concluded that the examinations were administered largely in accordance with the Regulations pertaining to the Conduct, Administration and Management of the National Senior Certificate Examination. The irregularities identified during the writing and marking of the examinations, were not systemic and therefore did not compromise the overall credibility and integrity of the November 2022 National Senior Certificate examinations administered by the Department of Basic Education (DBE).

Therefore, the Executive Committee of Council approved the release of the DBE November 2022 National Senior Certificate examinations results.


Regarding the identified irregularities, the DBE was required to block the results of all the candidates implicated in irregularities, including those implicated in the alleged acts of dishonesty pending the outcome of the DBE investigations and verification by Umalusi. Particular attention had to be paid to recurring matters of non-compliance.

The DBE was required to:

  • Submit a report on the action taken against the officials implicated in the irregularities.
  • Address the directives for compliance and improvement that were highlighted in the Quality Assurance of the Assessment report and submit an improvement plan by 15 March 2023.
  • The Executive Committee of Council commended the DBE for conducting a successful examination on such a large scale.

(See attached for detailed presentation)


The Acting Chairperson thanked Ms Mhaule and Umalusi. He noted that the presentations were comprehensive and detailed. He said an opportunity would be now given to the Committee to engage with the presentations.

Mr M Bara (DA, Gauteng) noted serious challenges on slide 60. He added that emerging trends relating to the assistance by invigilators were worrisome and asked to be given more information on the actions taken to date linked to the mentioned serious challenges mentioned on slide 60.

Mr Bara asked, in terms of the 15 March submission from various entities and the DBE, whether the Department's improvement plan noted by the Department had been submitted. He got the sense that there were reports received which were not yet interrogated or noted as to where they had come from. His third question was about the results of the class of 2022 which were a strong signal of recovery and renewal as mentioned on slide 16. Mr Bara asked to what extent the minimum of 30% for some subjects to be awarded, contributed towards the logic behind that statement.

In terms of slide 31, he noted the progress of progressed learners which showed both a 30% pass for some subjects and the policy allowing for the progression of learners; Mr Bara asked how the DBE was protecting the perception of the NSC’s value as a qualification that led to employment and or success in higher education. He said slides 43 to 46 spoke of the Woza Matric outputs and the distinct features of learner support and asked how the key successes would be duplicated in 2023. Mr Bara asked if the plan for the proposed oversight could be shared with the Committee. Regarding Slide 133 and the second-class matric programme not having the capacity to cater for all learners, he asked if the DBE could share its plan for enhancing the reach of that programme across provinces. 

Ms D Christians (DA, Northern Cape) asked about the noted gender gap, regarding enrolment and academic performance. How had that gender gap influenced support and resource allocation from the DBE and educational institutions? What was being done to support male learners performing at an average of about 10% lower than female learners across provinces? She said that was an area that needed work and answers.

Ms Christians noted, as per slide 65, that there was a mark difference in the Bachelor and Diploma pass rates between fee-paying schools and no-fee-paying schools. She said it seemed fee-paying and independent schools were achieving a higher percentage of Bachelor passes than no-fee-paying schools across provinces. She asked what the planned support and resource were for 2023 to maintain and increase the number of Bachelor passes in no-fee-paying schools.

She said on slide 99, it was noted that the 2022 mathematics achievement was at 55% and mathematical literacy was at 85.7%. She said a similar kind of discrepancy could be observed with the part-time mathematics and maths literacy pass rates. She asked what plans were in place for 2023 to improve the performance in both mathematics and mathematical literacy and if the DBE provided the opportunity for learners who had failed mathematics to write the mathematical literacy exam in their second attempt at matric.

Regarding slides 100 and 102, Ms Christians’ asked about the technical subjects and research being conducted about those subjects that attracted media attention. Her question was if there was any duplication in terms of technical subjects offered at TVET colleges and those offered in the National Certificate: Vocational (NCV) and if it was feasible to have TVET colleges teaching similar subjects to the NCV curriculum. Ms Christians asked if there was an issue for the DBE regarding special needs learners and what were the Department's plans in terms of continued support of special needs schools and the training and appointment of qualified teachers and support staff at those schools.

 In the Northern Cape, there was a continued struggle due to insufficient schools and the current schools' limited capacity. There were not enough places for special needs learners in the Nothern Cape. What was being done about insufficient schools catering to special needs in provinces as vast as the Nothern Cape? Ms Christians’ asked Umalusi to provide information on the key irregularities identified in the National Senior Certificate Examinations and, if possible, give a per province and district breakdown. She said that would be important for the Committee for the necessary oversight to be done. She asked about the status of the DBE’s formal acknowledgement of those key findings and the response to the detailed draft report that Umalusi requested from the DBE. When had the DBE envisioned the report would be sent to Umalusi? What support and training had been provided to personnel involved in developing question papers to address the recurrent non-compliance related to text selection, types and the quality of questions as well as the accuracy and reliability of marking guidelines? That was seen on slide 14.

Based on the recurrent non-compliance identified on slide 24, what recommendations were provided to improve provincial oversight regarding staff shortages at provincial and district levels? Regarding storage points that had not adhered to security norms and standards as heard during the presentation and the failure to submit concession applications for unaccredited centres. Ms Christians asked Umalusi to comment on or provide information on the action taken against the officials implicated in the irregularities, as noted on page 63 and to provide details concerning the improvement plan that the DBE was required to submit by 15 March to address the directors of compliance and improvement highlighted in the quality assurance assessment report.

Ms N Ndongeni (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked a question pertaining to slide 147 which stated that the Provincial Education Department (PED) had to strengthen internal moderation processes and upskills teachers on moderation practices to improve the implementation of the SBA process intervention strategy. It also stated that the DBE was to conduct an audit of the SBA system across all PEDs. The Department of Education would ensure that the PEDs monitored and supported the districts to ensure the authenticity of the learner evidence verifying marks awarded by teachers and that SBA, PTA and oral assessment requirements had been complied with.

Ms Ndogeni asked for clarity on the audit of the SBA system across all PEDs and how it would be reported on. How would the DBE ensure that the PEDs monitored and supported districts and could details be shared on the provincial engagement linked to that to assist the Committee during oversight. In terms of slide 149 which states that major non-negotiable criteria for evaluation of storage and nodal points, was adhered to by all PEDs’ intervention strategies. Further improvement in the security of storage points was implemented across PED in 2023 which would be a continual monitored improvement. How much improvement was being monitored across all PEDs and would it be reported? Could details be shared on the provincial engagement link to assist the Committee during oversight?

Slide 150 stated that all provincial internal moderators and chief markers met the MSM pre-marking requirement’s intervention strategy. Examination instructions were to be issued by the Department of Education in March 2023 to PEDs to emphasise the need for compliance to match standardisation meeting requirements. Ms Ndongeni asked for an update on the status of the path in terms of the date issued and the response received from the provinces.

The Chairperson asked about the 401 459 learners who dropped out between 2011 and 2022. The Chairperson asked the DBE what methods or interventions were in place to ensure learners stayed in the school system. He asked the DBE and Umalusi to respond to the issues raised by the Committee.

DBE Responses

Mr Mweli said he needed to indicate that the Deputy Minister had to leave to attend an urgent matter and did not want to disturb the meeting. He asked if Dr Poliah could start with the responses, and he would proceed afterwards.

The Acting Chairperson asked for Ms Mhaule to indicate to the Committee that she was leaving so she could be properly excused. He asked Dr Poliah to proceed with the responses.

Dr Poliah appreciated the Committee’s deep and insightful questions regarding the presentation and said it allowed for a deep reflection on what the DBE did. The presentation focused on the improvement and the questions posed were relevant to that focus.

Regarding assistance by invigilators and teachers, he responded that the DBE certainly condemned it at the highest level and that its invigilators and teachers were there to ensure a credible exam. The DBE had identified a few implicated teachers. He indicated that the investigation was ongoing, particularly with the Mpumalanga irregularity. Regarding the one teacher that shared answers erroneously on a teacher’s group, he said the teacher was identified and suspended immediately. The teacher was currently going through the normal disciplinary process regarding the Employment of Educators Act. His cellphone was confiscated, and an appointed company was busy with the forensic analysis of the cell phone.

 Dr Poliah said hard action was taken when teachers, learners, and invigilators were found to have not complied with the code. The Employment of Educators Act was clear that an examination irregularity was a dismissible offence. Provinces had procedures in place for educators that were identified to be non-compliant. Those educators would go through the necessary disciplinary procedures and the appropriate action would be taken. In terms of the improvement plan, it was submitted to Umalusi, and it would be acknowledged on an annual basis. Every recommendation was taken and looked at to ensure improvement from what was raised in the last improvement plan.

He responded to the question about the 30% minimum and how the DBE contributed to that improvement and said that learners obtained the 30% in one or two subjects and learners could obtain an NSC with 30% in 6 or 7 subjects. Dr Poliah said he tried to clarify the terms of admission to the Bachelor pass that one had to obtain four 50s and in terms of admission to the Diploma pass, one had to obtain four 40s. The contribution of the 30% was minor. If an analysis was done, it would be discovered that the bulk of the passes were from learners obtaining 40%, 50% and above. 30% passes were in the minority. 

In terms of progression, it was implemented as a mechanism to deal with the throughput rate because it did not make sense to continuously keep learners in grades 10 and 11 who failed. The progression policy implemented by the Minister was a bold step. He added that it was shown that with progression, the DBE was able to get learners through. Almost 40% of the 50 000 odd, progressed learners attained the NSC which meant that by getting the required support, those learners could satisfy the requirements of the NSC. That policy was not undermining the integrity and the standards required of the NSC because whether they progressed or not, learners still had to satisfy the same requirements at the end of grade 12. There was no condemnation dispensation such as the Multiple Examination Opportunity (MEO). Progressed learners had to satisfy the requirements as stipulated by the Minister and quality assured by Umalusi.

 Mr Mweli requested a plan for 2023 on the improvement and performance to be presented at the senior management meeting which took place on Monday. There was an extensive meeting and the plan would also be presented at the head com meeting on the 3 and 4 April. The improvement plan relating to 2023 and what was normally done was that the DBE looked at what worked and produced the desired output and those were activities that would be enhanced and allocated more resources. Mr Mweli requested that the DBE look at the gaps the class of 2023 sustained in the last three years of Covid and that was what the DBE was busy looking at, ensuring that gaps were attended to. The 2023 improvement plan on learner performance was a top priority.

The DBE presented a complete, evidence-based report to Umalusi which would assist Umalusi in understanding what had been done to address the learning losses and time disruption that the class had suffered and how appropriately Umalusi could approach its quality assurance approaches. About enhancing the reach of the Second Chance Matric Programme, he responded that the Minister and DG were continuously advocating for the programme. The Minister conducted several outreach meetings with members of the community and particularly adults that needed to join the programme. Last year the DBE extended the NSC in terms of learners who would not have done well or learners who would have failed in 2008 could now come back and repeat. Provided one had a school-based assessment component, you could come back and repeat. The DBE constantly reviewed its policies and looked at greater access for adult learners regarding the Second Chance Matric Programme. That programme was skills focused because if learners could not cope with the academics, bringing in skills-focused subjects needed to be considered.

He said with adult learners, the responsibility belonged largely to the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). Discussions with the DHET were being had collectively, there was already support for those adult learners in terms of extending and there were over 150 centres where there was face-to-face engagement, online support, video material, TV programmes and whatever programmes were made available to full-time learners. There were USB sticks where all the material was copied and made available to Second Chance learners so that they could access it.

Regarding the gender gap, he said it was a significant point and a programme, up to now, was focused on the girl learner therefore the DBE was looking closely into supporting the boy learner in place, but that was in the early stages of formulation. The issue of bullying impacted boy learners and the DBE was initiating further research on the boy learners to understand the factors impeding their progress. Resources would be redirected accordingly.

He said concerning the Bachelor passes, a slide was presented that the President was always attracted to, which showed the Bachelor pass quintiles one, two and three, where no-fee schools produced more Bachelor passes than quintiles four and five. That was now understandable from one perspective because there were more schools in quintiles one, two and three. He said that even though there were more schools and learners in quintiles one, two and three, it showed there were more learners. There were about 160 000 learners from quintiles one, two and three as compared to about 90 000 learners from quintiles four and five.

On disadvantaged and more rural schools, he indicated that there was progress but there was much more work to be done regarding no-fee-paying schools. The support programme for no-fee-paying schools would be improved and enhanced. He said with improvement in maths, the Department was not satisfied. Maths, science and technology were the DBE’s focus for the last few years. Its programme was continuously reviewed, and it was discovered that solving the maths problem started in Early Child Development (ECD) and the foundation phase, not grade 12. Dr Poliah said the result of all those initiatives would not be seen in two or three years as they were starting from the bottom.

Professor Ballim spoke about maths anxiety and said those were critical issues in dealing with maths performance. Those issues were dealing long-term but with grade 12, it was annual. For example, there was a diagnostic report which looked at the performance of learners in the maths examination in 2022. That report looked at the question-by-question analysis on where learners performed poorly, why and what could be done now that the diagnostic report was out. He said it would be used by subject advisors to support learners so there was a comprehensive maths programme but obviously, it took longer to see the fruit of that programme and it was continuously being reviewed.

Dr Poliah said it was not just maths; the DBE looked at maths in totality. The DBE had included technical maths and maths literacy because all learners needed mathematics knowledge. In terms of duplication, the DBE was dealing with and setting up meetings and teams to look at the duplication and how to minimise it. He said he was sure Mr Mweli had more to add about TVET colleges and its programmes.

He said a ministerial committee was appointed to review the white paper six on Educational Tutoring Services in Literacy, Special Needs, Extra lessons and Numeracy (ELSEN) learners. That committee met and established five streams to cover the various aspects of learners with special needs. Dr Poliah said inclusive education for special needs learners was a priority. On an annual basis, the DBE was improving support and ensuring that schools were available to support learners with special needs. With SBA, the DBE realised that year after year moderation was conducted of SBA that in the moderation process, there was a slight improvement but there was a tendency to pick up the same kind of issues that emerged from one year to the other. Therefore, the Department decided to conduct an audit of SBA systems in the FET and GET bands that year. The DBE was going to go and engage with the problem and understand what the province was doing from the level of policy, guidelines, training, support, monitoring and moderation. He said that unless there were systems in place, progress would not be seen regarding some of those endemic challenges being dealt with. He asked if the Committee would allow the Department to present its findings once the audit was completed so that Department could deal with the School-Based Assessment (SBA), because, in principle, there was an undertaking that SBA had to become the more prominent component of assessment.

Focus on external examination needed to be minimised and there needed to be a strengthening of the capacity of teachers, so that they could become key role players in determining whether learners made the desired progress and where the learners had to be progressed from, from one grade to the next. The SBA was a priority. Dr Poliah said, in terms of security or storage points, that the DBE had many storage points but given that papers were stored at those points, a clear criterion was thought of that storage points had to comply with. An annual audit of the storage points. He said a breakdown of fully and partially compliant storage points could be provided. Non-compliant storage points were not allowed to store question papers; the focus would be partially compliant storage points and ensuring the DBE was fully compliant. 

That point was raised at head com, and it was agreed to ensure more funding was made available so that storage points could have the desired security measures put in place, which included cameras in terms of physical security surveillance. No stone would be left unturned in ensuring the requirements were met, set and agreed upon. Regarding compliance with marking standardisation, review meetings were starting shortly. At those review meetings, the compliance to marking standardisation, together with other issues where there were gaps, which Umalusi had raised, would be discussed. Those were put into the improvement plan, which would be shared with provincial departments and the circular on going out listening to each province on what the areas needed to be deal with, was being finalised. Together with the improvement plan and a gathering of the national examination managers, scheduled for the 17, 18 and 19 April where that would be discussed.

 He said concerning the best mechanisms that could be put in place moving forward regarding the loss of over 400 000 learners, Mr Mweli would want to add that that had not been the case. The matric data showed there were more learners in grade 12 pre-covid and, in terms of the throughput data, there was a demonstrated increase. He said Mr Mweli would be able to address the issue of the loss of over 400 000 learners.

Mr Mweli said Dr Poliah’s 34 years had come in handy and that 99% of his comments covered the questions raised by the Committee. Mr Mweli apologised again for the departure of the DM without formal notification to the Chairperson and said that would be brought to Ms Mhaule’s attention.

In terms of what was required of the Woza Matric programme, that would be made available to the Committee. He said the programmes that needed to be improved in terms of performance would also be made available. There was some duplication in terms of the offering in the NCV ad, the new specialisation areas introduced in 2018. The DBE was working with DHET to deal with that because all of those were offered in terms of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) levels.

The Acting Chairperson noted that it seemed Mr Mweli had dropped off the platform.

Dr Poliah asked if they could give Mr Mweli a few seconds to rejoin the meeting.

Mr Mweli continued that the DBE was working together to deal with the duplication issue.

Mr E Nchabeleng (ANC, Limpopo) greeted and apologised for joining the meeting late. He said he would just look and listen.

The Chairperson asked the DBE to check on Mr Mweli because he had dropped out of the meeting again.

Dr Poliah said he would check on Mr Mweli.

The Chairperson thanked Dr Poliah and asked that Umalusi proceed with its responses.

Responses from Umalusi

Professor Ballim thanked the Committee for its questions. He said the questions were technical and therefore would be answered by Dr Rakometsi.

He said that whilst it was expected, and he was glad to have reached the moment where that was a normal expectation, it should not be lost that there were no leaks or perhaps nothing of serious concern. Professor Ballim said there were some irregularities and improper behaviour, but the Department was at a point where it could comfortably say that Umalusi was running a system that was well looked after.

On the issue of performance in mathematics, he agreed with Dr Poliah’s comment that the DBE was where the kernel of the problem was with the formative stages of mathematics thinking and reasoning in young children. That was the basic and primary school level. He also noted that he was not a math educator but a civil engineer who worked in computational mathematics. Professor Ballim added that the second area of concern was how mathematics was taught as a reasoning and logical thinking competence subject as opposed to a way to solve problems with a calculator. He said that was perhaps something to be considered by finer minds than his on the subject.

Dr Rakometsi confirmed that Umalusi received the improvement plan from the DBE. He noted that Dr Poliah touched on the DBE’s approach to some of the items raised. Umalusi still had to study and engage with the report because it was only received from the different assessment bodies last week. 

He said in terms of the 30% pass rate debate, it needed to be appreciated that a pass at that level was as old as the trick itself because the qualification served many purposes. Some people wanted to go into the world of work, others wanted to go to university, and some wanted to be good citizens and not further their studies or work.

It was important to note that children were gifted differently and not all were destined for universities. The past percentage of 40% used to be passed in the old matric or higher grade. The standard grade used to be 33% and one-third which could be converted to lower grades, affected a pass which was 25%. That was worse than the 30%. The students who passed a minimum of three subjects at 40% and three subjects at 30% were so few. There were around 100 out of 800 candidates.

In terms of technical subjects, he said the NCV qualification offered at TVET colleges and the NSC offered at schools were at the same NQF level. That was because the NCV was a new qualification that had not gained traction. Umalusi wrote the Department of Public Service Administration, letting them know that NCV was at the same level as the NSC. Therefore, when advertising posts for public servants those with NCV certificates had met the same requirements as those with the NSC in terms of NQF level. Dr Rakometsi said he had an admin clerk who had the NCV, so after grade nine, they pursued the NCV and were hired by Umalusi.   

He said it had to be understood that the difference between NSC and NCV was that the NCV was more practical. It led to vocations. There was also a study on Umalusi’s website where both qualification curriculums were compared. Both qualifications were part of the sub-framework of Umalusi and compared favourably.

Dr Ramoketsi said an appraisal of subjects in the NSC to ensure credit accumulation and transfer from the NSC to the NCV could be done because the curriculums of both compared favourably. English first additional language, English home language mathematical literacy, mathematics and physical science could be transferred from the NSC to NCV for one to complete the NCV. He said the irregularities were in two major categories and were technical. For example, there was one where a student was registered and wanted to register for English home language but was registered for English first additional language instead. Or where a student registered for English first additional language at the point of writing was given a question paper for English home language and proceeded to write the paper. There were many other examples.

He added that cheating was a behavioural irregularity. Umalusi was limited in that regard because of the irregularities it got in nature, cases per province, and the number of candidates involved. That had not been gotten into deeply at district level and perhaps Dr Poliah could shed light on that. He said the list he had indicated the province, the number of cases per province, the number of candidates involved per province, possible assistance, the student had crip notes, a cell phone in the exam room, group copying, missing script, different handwritings on the same answer book, candidates with two scripts, candidates using a smartwatch in the exam, a student who was an imposter, tattooing answers on one’s arm and a candidate using a pencil to write answers.

In terms of what needed to be done about the staff shortage in the provincial offices of exams, he said a work-study had to be done to check the workload and after the study, the office of the Premier posts could be created and funded by individual PEDs. That was emphasised because the work was long hours and lives were at risk due to burnout. That meant people could commit errors in exams or be too tired to drive long distances with the question papers. That issue needed urgent attention. He said Dr Poliah had covered everything else and if he missed something, he could be alerted.

The Chairperson asked if Mr Mweli was present so that the Committee could perhaps probe him for two minutes.

Dr Poliah said Mr Mweli was unfortunately in a remote part of Kwa Zulu Natal and connectivity had let him down.

Mr Mweli said the enrolment from 2019 to 2022 had increased from 12.6 million to 13.4 million which meant that the notion that 400 000 learners were lost, as correctly pointed out by Dr Poliah, was incorrect according to data. The plans requested by Mr Bara and Ms Christians would be made available. He apologised and said he had to get on the N2 for better connectivity.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the delegation from the DBE and Umalusi. He said the Committee appreciated the support and presence in the Committee s meeting when discussing progress on various matters. The Chairperson excused and thanked the DBE and Umalusi from the meeting. He noted that the Committee could now deal with internal matters.

Committee Minutes

The Acting Chairperson noted that it was time to consider the draft minutes. He asked the Committee Secretary to put up the draft minutes and acknowledged the presence of Committee Chairperson Nchabaleng.

The Acting Chairperson scrolled through the draft minutes.

The minutes of 15 March 2023 were duly adopted.

The Acting Chairperson appreciated the efforts of all those in attendance as part of the Committee’s constitutional obligation to hold the executive to account, particularly in that session where they interrogated reports from both the DBE and Umalusi. He thanked the Committee for its vote of confidence.

The Acting Chairperson asked if the Chairperson had any comments to make.

Chairperson Nchabaleng thanked the Committee for holding stepping in for him when he was in India. He also mentioned that he had just landed in Russia. He said the Committee had done a very good job and needed to remember that it was tasked with monitoring the country's biggest budget, which was billions of billions of rand. Due diligence needed to be paid and the usage of funds needed to be checked. The entities that reported to the Committee had done a good job with the matric results and made the Committee proud

The Acting Chairperson thanked the Chairperson and the Committee.

Meeting adjourned.


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