ATC150429: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the Official Release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Results for 2014, dated 14 April 2015

Basic Education

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the Official Release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Results for 2014, dated 14 April 2015.


The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having attended the official release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results for 2014, reports as follows:


1.         Introduction


  1. A delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education attended the official release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results for 2014 on Monday, 5 January 2015 at the SABC Studios in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.


  1. The delegation comprised the following members of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education: Hon N Gina MP (ANC) (Chairperson), Hon J Basson MP (ANC), Hon H D Khosa MP (ANC), Hon T Z Khoza MP (ANC), Hon A Lovemore MP (DA), Hon D Van Der Walt MP (DA), Hon A M Mpontshane MP (IFP) and Hon C Majeke MP (UDM).


  1. Members of staff who formed part of the delegation included Mr D Bandi (Content Advisor), Mr L Brown (Committee Secretary), Mr K Madimetja (Researcher) and Mr D Arendse (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.


With the completion of the marking of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examinations in December 2014, the Minister of Basic Education officially announced the final results which were broadcast live nationally. The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education was invited to attend the official announcement of the results of the NSC Examinations for 2014 at the SABC M1 Studios, Auckland Park, Johannesburg on 5 January 2015.


3.         Presentation of the 2014 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination Results           Technical Briefing – Mr P Padayachee, Acting Director-General: Department of Basic      Education


Mr Padayachee, in his opening remarks, indicated that the NSC was in its seventh year of implementation, and 2014 signified the completion of the implementation of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) across the General Education and Training (GET) and the Further Education and Training (FET) bands. The NSC examination was an important barometer of the performance of the system, given that it captured the achievement of the education system over 12 years. On an annual basis the successes and deficiencies linked to the NSC were reviewed, so as to ensure that there was continuous progress in the attainment of the goal of quality education. The Technical Report was a comprehensive account published annually after the results of the NSC examinations were finalised. It captured the details of related systems and processes that enabled the administration of the examination, and the results of the Grade 12 learners, presented at the national, district and school levels.


Mr Padayachee touched on the NSC as an indicator of the achievements of the National Mandate, the structure and format of the NSC, as well as minimum requirements for admission to the Higher Certificate, Diploma and Bachelor’s Degree. A total of 688 660 candidates registered for the 2014 NSC examinations with 550 127 full-time and 138 533 part-time candidates. A notable decrease in full-time enrolments in seven of the nine provinces. Mr Padayachee gave a detailed breakdown of the subject enrollments from 2010 to 2014.


The meeting received a detailed synopsis of the intervention programmes targeting the Class of 2014 as follows:


  • Dissemination of Learning and teaching Support Materials (LTSM) to Grade 12 teachers and learners;
  • Teacher development initiatives to improve the teaching of English across the curriculum;
  • Subject specific remedial plans;
  • Provision of extra tuition to Grade 12 learners;
  • Tracking learner performance;
  • Partnerships; and
  • Monitoring support and oversight of the implementation of the National Strategy for Learner Attainment (NSLA)


In respect of the integrity and credibility of the 2014 NSC examinations, Mr Padayachee touched on the following:


  • Registration of examination centres and candidates;
  • Accommodation of learners with special needs;
  • Development of National Question Papers;
  • School Based Assessment;
  • Writing of the 2014 NSC examination;
  • Marking of the 2014 NSC examination;
  • Monitoring of the 2014 NSC examination;
  • Dealing with examination irregularities;
  • Resulting and certification; and
  • Supplementary examinations.


The analysis of the 2014 NSC examination results provided analysis of data at national, provincial and district levels. The report focused on full-time candidates that wrote six or more subjects. Mr Padayachee gave a detailed breakdown of the following:


  • Overall performance of candidates in the 2014 NSC examinations;
  • Comparison of NSC passes;
  • Performance by type of qualification;
  • Overall NSC performance by Gender;
  • School performance by quintiles;
  • National subject analysis;
  • Provincial subject performance;
  • National subject performance based on distinctions;
  • Performance of candidates in special; needs education;
  • District performance; and
  • Performance of part-time candidates.


Mr Padayachee concluded by indicating that there were significant lessons to be extracted from the outcome of the 2014 NSC results. He indicated that the decline in subject performance would be investigated thoroughly so as not to exclude other factors that may have contributed to the drop. The basic education system was making steady progress but there was still a long road to travel. The reports that have been generated from this process would provide the appropriate feedback to the national, provincial, district and school levels. The National Diagnostic Report would also provide important input to teaching and learning in the classroom and the 2015 NSC examination would confirm the extent of the progress made during the course of the new academic year.


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


In her opening remarks, Minister Motshekga mentioned that 2014 was the watershed year as it marked the completion of the implementation of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) throughout the education system. Essentially CAPS was the strengthening of the National Curriculum Statement and clearly specified what should be taught, which topics should be covered per subject, grade, and per quarter of the school calendar year. It also provided guidelines on how assessment needed to be carried out including adding more content to some subjects such as Mathematics and Business Studies. In some instances certain aspects of the curriculum were replaced by others.


The Quality Assurance Council, UMALUSI, which played a critical role in protecting the integrity of the National Senior Certificate examination, had, after rigorous verification of all examination processes, declared the 2014 NSC examinations as free, fair and credible. This achievement was attributed to the unwavering commitment demonstrated by examination officials at the DBE and across the nine provinces. However in 2014, the Department experienced a strange phenomenon of group copying that had been identified by Umalusi and DBE during the administration of the 2014 NSC examinations. In terms of the examination irregularities reported by Umalusi with specific reference to group copying in the KwaZulu- Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces, results of 39 centres in KwaZulu-Natal and 19 centres in the Eastern Cape were subjected to an investigative audit by both the DBE and Umalusi. Eleven centres in KwaZulu-Natal and three centres in Eastern Cape had been cleared of any irregular activity. The remaining 28 centres in KwaZulu-Natal and 16 centres in the Eastern Cape would be further investigated and finalised by end of January 2015.


Hon Motshekga touched on the District Performance indicating that of the 81 districts, no district performed below 50 percent in 2014. All Provincial Education Departments (PEDs) had worked tirelessly and consistently hard from the beginning of 2014. Key interventions focused on improving performance in key gateway subjects and supporting underperforming schools and their principals. These initiatives had yielded results, however, there was much more work that needed to be done and it started on the first day of school for all grades.


Hon Motshekga indicated that they were proud of the Class of 2014 because as already mentioned, the Class of 2014 was the first group to write the final CAPS-aligned examinations. They were also the first cohort to experience a one percent drop in the language compensation.In addition, it was the first time that they had learners that were progressed to Grade 12. Hon Motshekga announced the National Pass Rate for the Class of 2014 as 75.8 percent. This represented a drop of 2,4 percentage points compared to 2013.


Hon Motshekga, in paving a way forward mentioned that the quality of education of any system was predicated on the quality of its teachers. The qualification profile of teachers in the sector had improved from 53 percent in 1990 to 97 percent in 2013. The data on the Foundation Phase teacher education involving universities showed a massive growth of 35 275 in 2008 to 97 000 in 2013. The Minster further indicated that the President had been making a call to make education a societal issue and school governing bodies were part of the key role players. Parents, learners and teachers working together had huge potential of ensuring that School Governing Bodies (SGBs) in the majority of schools were provided the required oversight of placing accountability on improving learning outcomes as their main task.


The establishment of the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) was the best decision ever taken by both the private sector and government. It had played a crucial role in galvanising government, labour, business and civil society, directing their energies and resources towards realising goals of the National Development Plan (NDP) and Action Plan 2019. The sector was on the right trajectory of addressing quality and efficiency.


Going forward the Department would work hard to sustain improvement in learner performance, enhanced accountability at all levels of the system, greater focus on basic functionality of schools, and protecting time for teaching and learning. The Department would further improve monitoring and support for teaching and learning. She concluded by mentioning that without parental and community support, education could never be a societal issue as envisaged by government.


The official announcement by Minister Motshekga was followed by the presentation of learner awards and media interviews.


Report to be noted.





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