ATC160530: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the Official Release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Results for 2015, dated 24 May 2016

Basic Education

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the Official Release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Results for 2015, dated 24 May 2016


The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having attended the official release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results for 2015, 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 2015 on Tuesday, 5 January 2016 at VodaWorld, Midrand.


  1. The delegation comprised the following members of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education: Hon N Gina MP (ANC) (Chairperson), Hon N R Mokoto MP (ANC) (Whip), Hon J Basson MP (ANC), Hon H D Khosa MP (ANC), Hon T Z Khoza MP (ANC), Hon D Mnguni MP (ANC), Hon G Davis MP (DA), Hon D Van Der Walt MP (DA), Hon C T Msimang 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 J Van Der Westhuizen (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 2015, 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 2015 at VodaWorld, Midrand on 5 January 2016.


3.         Presentation of the 2015 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination Results           Technical Briefing – Mr H M Mweli, Director-General: Department of Basic Education


Mr Mweli, in his opening remarks, spoke of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), specifically the SDG4 which spoke of “Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The principles used to determine the performance of an education system were as follows:

  • Access;
  • Redress;
  • Equity;
  • Efficiency; and
  • Quality.

Mr Mweli gave a broad overview with detailed information on many aspects in respect of the above principles which included amongst others:


  • Learners attending educational institutions by province (various age-groups; including those with disabilities);
  • Apparent intake rate to grades;
  • The percentage and number of female learners who fell pregnant;
  • The percentage of learners by status of access to Language and Mathematics workbooks;
  • Access to textbooks;
  • The percentage of learners walking to school for more than 30 minutes;
  • The percentage of learners who experienced violence, corporal punishment or verbal abuse;
  • The percentage of learners benefiting from the school feeding scheme;
  • No fee learners and no fee schools;
  • The percentage of repeaters by Grade; and
  • The prop-out rates decliningalthough quality problems were manifested in secondary schools


Mr Mweli also alluded to the size and shape of the Education Sector with details on Education Statistics at a glance for 2014. He mentioned that the outcome of the education enterprise was based on a multiplicity of factors. Performance in the NSC examination was one of the most critical indicators of system improvement. Standards were maintained through:

  • high knowledge, high skills curriculum;
  • high quality question papers;
  • rigorous examination administration processes;
  • high quality marking; and
  • standardisation of the examination results.


Part of the drive to improve the quality of education, was the raising of the standard of the NSC examination. The examinations and assessment influenced classroom practice and exerted a pull potential on standards of teaching and learning. The introduction of CAPS in 2014, was the start of this initiative and a gradual phasing in over the next years was anticipated. Excellent progress was made with regard to access, redress and equity. Quality and efficiency were the focus for the next few years. The Department had prioritised quality improvements rather than increases in overall pass rates.

Mr Mweli went on to give a detailed overview of the Class of 2015 and covered the following areas:

  • The profile of the Class of 2015;
  • The scope and size of the 2015 NSC Examination;
  • The number of candidates who wrote the examinations;
  • Historic trends;
  • The number of candidates passing Matric since 1970;
  • Overall national results;
  • NSC passes by qualification type;
  • Bachelor pass trends and achievements;
  • NSC passes per Quintile;
  • Progressed learners and repeater candidates;
  • School performance within different percentage categories;
  • School performance by Quintile;
  • Subject performance;
  • District performance;
  • The performance of part-time candidates;
  • Special Needs Education; and a summary of achievements.


Mr Mweli indicated that there was a significant increase of 117 798 candidates in the 2015 enrolment with the number of learners achieving the NSC increasing. The number of learners passing Mathematics had increased from 120 523 in 2014 to 129 481 in 2015. The number of learners passing Physical Science had increased from 103 348 in 2014 to 113 121 in 2015. A total of 166 263 learners who qualified for Bachelor Studies at Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) (25.8 percent) and 183 720 learners qualified for Diploma Studies at HEIs (28.5 percent). A total of 90 027 female learners qualified for Bachelor studies at HEIs (25.7 percent) while 2631 schools attained a pass percentage of 80 percent and above. A total of 470 schools attained a pass percentage of 100 percent with 463 schools from Quintile 1 attaining a pass percentage of 80 percent and above. A total of 80 038 learners from Quintile 1, 2, and 3 schools qualified for Bachelor studies at HEIs. A total of 59 of the 81 districts attained a pass rate of 60 percent and above with 29 of the 81 districts achieving a pass rate of 80 percent and above.


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


In her opening remarks, Minister Motshekga indicated that the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations were a critical summative assessment in the schooling system.  These national assessments had developed in progressively since the first NSC examinations were written in 1996.  These assessments had positioned the basic education sector as a custodian of high educational standards.


The Minister mentioned that the Class of 2015 had recorded the highest enrolment of Grade 12 learners in the history of the basic education system in South Africa.  The total number of candidates who registered for the November 2015 NSC examinations was 799 306; written by 667 925 full time candidates and 131 381 part time candidates. This was an increase of 110 thousand candidates compared to those enrolled for the 2014 NSC examinations.


This was one of the positive indicators that the Department was addressing the conundrum of retention/dropout rates – thus increasing access to quality education. The other important indicators that demonstrated marked improvement in access, redress and equity include:

  • The percentage of five year-olds attending educational institutions at Grade R was 87.2 percent;
  • The Apparent Intake Rate (AIR) to Grade 1 was 101.4 percent;
  • ‎The percentage of fourteen (14) to eighteen (18) year-olds attending educational institutions was 90.7 percent;
  • The percentage of five (5) year-olds children with disabilities attending educational institutions was 83.9 percent;
  • Seven (7) to fifteen (15) year-olds children with disabilities attending educational institutions was 93.4 percent;
  • The number of learners who benefit from the National School Nutrition Programme was 9.2 million learners; and
  • The percentage of learners who benefit from pro-poor policy package, such as “no fee” schools was 80 percent.


Minister Motshekga also indicated that a key area in the year 2015, was to encourage provinces to progress or condone learners who had repeated Grade 11 more than once, who were over-aged and give them extra support to sit for Grade 12 NSC examinations. Consequently, in 2015 there was the largest number of progressed learners since the policy was promulgated in 2013.  An analysis of the raw data on progressed learners painted an extremely interesting picture, in particular this year.  For the Class of 2015, there were 65 671 progressed learners, which was 9.8 percent of the total number of full-time candidates registered for the 2015 NSC examinations. Of these progressed learners who wrote the examinations, 22 060 passed the 2015 NSC examinations, which represented 37.6 percent of all progressed learners.  Some 3 297 progressed learners obtained Bachelor passes, meaning that these would-be-high-school dropouts now had the opportunity to go to University. A total of 8 473 obtained Diploma passes; and 10 264 obtained Higher Certificate passes.


The Department would conduct a more detailed analysis on the effects of progressed learners on the overall NSC results.  At this stage it appeared that the progressed learners did not contribute substantively in the drop of the NSC pass overall rate. The Department was planning to strengthen the psycho-social services, differentiated teaching and curriculum pathways, remedial work, screening and testing for both health, academic and psychological needs.


In 2016, having taken into account the lessons learnt in the implementation of the policy on progressed learners, the Department had revised the policy and introduced stringent measures that had to be met before learners could be progressed within the FET Band. The Minister also touched on the area of the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).


The Minister, in conclusion, pronounced the results of the Class of 2015 with details in respect of:

  • Learners with Special Needs;
  • Quintile ranking;
  • District performance; and
  • Provincial performance


The 2015 NSC overall pass rate stood at 70.7 percent, which represented 455 825 candidates who had passed the 2015 NSC Examinations, being the largest in history.  This represented an increase of 51 952 candidates from those who passed in 2014.  The national pass rate without progressed learners would have been 74.1 percent. The Minister further indicated that the Department had a special intervention to assist those who failed to pass the NSC Examinations. The Second Chance Matric Programme was intended to provide support to learners who had not been able to meet the requirements of the National Senior Certificate by increasing learner retention. The categories of learners who would be covered were as follows:

  • Learners who qualified to write the Supplementary Examinations for a maximum of two subjects;
  • Progressed learners who pursued multiple opportunities to complete the NSC; and
  • Learners who failed to meet the requirements of the NSC in 2015.

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





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