ATC120228: Report Official Release of the National Senior Certificate Results for 2011, dated 28 February 2012

Basic Education

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the Official Release of the National Senior Certificate Results for 2011, dated 28 February 2012


The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having participated in the official release of the National Senior Certificate results for 2011, reports as follows:


1.         Introduction


1.1               A delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education undertook a visit to participate in the official release of the National Senior Certificate results for 2011 on Wednesday, 4 January 2012 at the National Library Auditorium in Pretoria.


1.2               The delegation comprised the following members of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education: Hon H Malgas MP (ANC) (leader of the delegation), Hon N Gina MP (ANC), Hon Z S Makhubele MP (ANC), Hon A C Mashishi MP (ANC), Hon C Moni MP (ANC), Hon F F Mushwana MP (ANC), Hon J J Skosana MP (ANC), Hon W James MP (DA), Hon W Madisha MP (Cope), Hon A M Mpontshane MP (IFP) and Hon N M Kganyago MP (UDM), Hon C Dudley MP (ACDP) and Hon K J Dikobo MP (AZAPO).


1.3               Members of staff who formed part of the delegation included Mr D Bandi (Content Advisor), Mr L Mahada (Parliamentary Researcher), Mr L Brown (Committee Secretary) and Ms A Nkwandla (Committee Assistant).


2.         Background


The national examination system in South Africa is managed by the Department of Basic Education supported by the nine Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). National examinations are conducted in accordance with the Regulations Pertaining to the Conduct, Management and Administration of the National Senior Certificate. The Department monitors the implementation of these regulations, while the heads of examinations in the provinces are responsible for their implementation.


The finalisation of the marking of the National Senior Certificate examinations in December 2011 culminates with an official announcement (broadcast live throughout the country) of these results by the Minister of Basic Education. The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education was invited to attend the official announcement of the National Senior Certificate Examinations for 2011 at the National Library Auditorium in Pretoria.


3.         Opening Remarks – Ms V Carelse, Deputy Director-General: Strategic Planning and Monitoring


In her opening remarks, the Programme Director, Ms V Carelse, thanked all for their presence at the results release. She urged those present to practice some restraint during the live broadcast and indicated that the order of proceedings was as follows:


·         Technical Briefing

·         Official Opening and Welcome

·         Address by the Minister of Basic Education

·         The announcement of two top performing leaners per quintile

·         Closing address

·         The handover of certificates and gifts

·         Media briefing and interviews


4.         Presentation of the 2011 NSC Examination Technical Report – Mr B Soobrayan,       Director-General: Department of Basic Education


      In his introduction, Mr Soobrayan indicated that the National Senior Certificate (NSC)          examination in 2011 was the fourth year of the implementation of the National Curriculum     Statement (NCS). Experiences and gains of the previous three years had improved teaching and learning and teacher confidence. Teachers, subject   advisors and      the        examining panels had come to grips with the national curriculum and its associated          assessment. Mr Soobrayan emphasised that the performance in the 2011 NSC examination            had to be reviewed in the context of:


·          The Basic Education Delivery Agreement

·          Growth in the number of young people who completed Grade 12 in the country


Mr Soobrayan touched on some of the initiatives used to improve the quality of schooling which included:


•          Action Plan to 2014: Towards the realisation of Schooling 2025.

•          Review of the curriculum.

•          The workbook project.

•          Continuing teacher development.

•          Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Development Initiative (ASIDI)

•          The Annual National Assessment.

•          The Foundations for learning programme.

•          The National School Nutrition Programme 

•          A strong focus on improving literacy and numeracy across all grades.

•          The Dinaledi Schools.

•          No Fee Schools.

•          The Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme 


Mr Soobrayan mentioned that progress in terms of the key educational outcomes showed that Grade R expansion was encouraging, more learners completed Grade 12 and more learners qualified for access to degree programmes. The Class of 2011 entered Grade 1 in 2000 when the age of admission was set at seven (7) years. These learners had twelve years of schooling under the democratic government with education systems and processes fairly stable. This cohort of learners also benefitted from assessment and examination material of the past three years and was exposed to the implementation of the new curriculum.


Mr Soobrayan went further to present charts with detailed information on the following:


·         The number of candidates and the pass rates in the NSC from 1994 to 2010

·         Grade 12 completion of 19 – 24 year olds earlier and at higher levels over recent years

·         Enrolment in Grade 11 and 12 for 1999 to 2011

·         The differences in the promotional requirements for the Senior Certificate and the National Senior Certificate

·         A breakdown (per province) of the Examination Centres and Marking Centres

·         A breakdown (per province) of candidates enrolled (full time and part time)

·         Candidates who wrote by gender (including performance by gender)

·         Numbers achieved per achievement level

·         2011 NSC passes by type of qualification

·         Achievement rates within different percentage categories

·         School achievement by Quintiles

·         Candidates performance in selected subjects for 2008 to 2011

·         District performance by achievement interval and province.


      In respect of the standardisation of results, Mr Soobrayan stressed that Umalusi, the Quality           Assurance Council, had conducted an internationally acceptable process to ensure that the            results were valid and credible. Out of 56 subjects presented for standardisation – raw marks    of 45 were used, eight subjects were adjusted downwards and three subjects adjusted     upwards. In explaining the magnitude and size of the NSC Examination, Mr Soobrayan       indicated that 329 question papers were set with 220 examiners/moderators. There were 6          592 examination centres, 123 marking centres and 38 000 markers.


      Mr Soobrayan went on to give statistics for the overall performance of candidates in the 2011           NSC Examination and the performance against previous years. He mentioned that a matter for     concern was the drop in subject performance for the following subjects:


                  Accounting –     Here learners experienced difficulty with Cash Flow Statements,                                              Balance Sheets, Income Statements and analysis and interpretation of                              financial information. Learners were not grounded in basic concepts.


                  Life Sciences – This subject had a new content framework with an increased focus on                                       content.


                  Economics -      Learners experienced difficulty with questions based on contemporary                                      economic issues. Language skills also came into play. 


                  Mathematics -   Raw marks were accepted for the first time in the last four years. There                                    were    shortcomings in the teaching of certain challenging topics. There                                       were also learner inadequacies in terms of foundational competencies.


      In conclusion, Mr Soobrayan indicated that a new benchmark in attaining an achievement rate         had been set in respect of improving the percentage passes in five gateway subjects and the    development of the following:


·     Subject diagnostic reports which provided feedback to learning and teaching and assisted in school based diagnostic assessment and intervention.

·     Individual school reports that tracked school performance over the past three years.


5.         Address by Hon A Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education


After the official opening, welcome and introductory remarks by the Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Hon E Surty, the Hon A Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education addressed the gathering. This address coincided and was synchronized with the live broadcast across the country at 18:30 pm that evening.


In her address, the Hon Minister touched on some key areas namely:

(i)                   Progress in the Schooling Sector

(ii)                 Education in 2011

(iii)                The Class of 2011

(iv)                Standardisation


In announcing the 2011 National Results, Hon Motshekga was pleased to announce that the national pass rate for the class of 2011 was 70.2 percent. It presented an increase of 2.4 percent on the 2010 results (67.8 percent). Provincial pass rates were as follows (in ascending order):


1)       Eastern Cape – 58.1 percent (58.3 percent in 2010)

2)       Limpopo – 63.9 percent                    (57.9 percent in 2010)

3)       Mpumalanga – 64.8 percent  (56.8 percent in 2010)

4)       KwaZulu-Natal – 68.1 percent            (70.7 percent in 2010)

5)       Northern Cape – 68.8 percent            (72.3 percent in 2010)

6)       Free State – 75.7 percent     (70.7 percent in 2010)

7)       North West – 77.8 percent    (75.7 percent in 2010)

8)       Gauteng – 81.1 percent                    (78.6 percent in 2010)

9)       Western Cape – 82.9 percent            (76.8 percent in 2010)


Minister Motshekga further mentioned that the percentage of Grade 12 learners who qualified for Bachelor’s studies increased to 24.3 percent. A total of 104 033 learners had passed Mathematics while 96 441 learners had passed Physical Science. There was concern over the number of passes in Mathematics – 104 033 in 2011 – which was less than the 124 749 of 2010. The pass rate for Mathematics was 46.3 percent in 2011, a decline from 47.4 percent in 2010. The pass rate for Physical Science in 2011 was 53.4% as compared to 47.8% in 2010.

The number of passes in Mathematical Literacy was 236 548 for 2011 compared to 241 576 for 2010.


The Minister indicated that the Department had a strategy in place which would vigorously be implement in 2012 to improve the pass rate and the quality of Mathematics and Physical Science – the National Strategy for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education. The focus would be on four areas:

·         improving the participation and performance of girl learners

·         helping schools to improve learners’ subject choices

·         ensuring the correct placement of teachers

·         focusing teacher development efforts on subject and pedagogical content knowledge.


The Minister further stressed the priorities of the Department which included the eradication of inequality in the schooling system. She had agreed with education MECs on key priority areas for 2012 - an integrated planning process for the sector to align all plans and strategies. While the results of the 2011 Annual National Assessments (ANA) was generally unfavourable, they revealed the full extent of learner performance deficits in the system. More importantly, they gave a benchmark to help monitor progress or lack thereof in subsequent tests. Through ANA, the Department knew exactly where the problems were and were better equipped to deal with them. The Department, in 2012, would focus on the refinement of ANA and step up work on the early years of schooling.

In line with the Planning Commission’s recommendations on improving school functionality, the Department, in conjunction with the provinces, would send teams to the 15 districts that performed under 60 percent. The teams would not only be expected to identify challenges but also to deal with those challenges as all districts were expected to perform at the national average of 70% for 2012. They would also go to all schools that performed under 40% in 2011, which were, in the main, the small and rural schools that needed consolidating into more vibrant and efficient schools. By the end of the first term, they would report on credible plans to improve learner outcomes both in terms of quality of passes and the numbers going through.

The Minister also highlighted that processes were being finalised at the Education Labour Relations Council for the evaluation of principals and deputy principals in terms of which they would be required to sign performance agreements. This measure was meant to strengthen accountability levels. In her closing remarks, Minister Motshekga’s message to the Class of 2011 was to congratulate them for a job well done. For the Class of 2012 the Minister indicated that there were great role-models whose larger-than-life endeavours should challenge them to aim high. The 2011 matric results marked a decisive shift from the trend of years past. They had arrested the decline by registering a significant improvement across the system and would work even harder to ensure that the improvements were sustained.


The official announcement by Minister Motshekga was followed by a media conference where the Deputy Minister and Director-General fielded questions from the media present. This was followed by final closing remarks by the Director-General who concluded the proceedings for the day.


Report to be noted.






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