ATC230210: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the Official Release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Results for 2022, dated 7 February 2023

Basic Education

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the Official Release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Results for 2022, dated 7 February 2023


The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, having attended the official release of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results for 2022, 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 2022 on Thursday, 20 January 2023 at the Mosaiek Church in Randburg.


  1. The delegation was comprised of the following members of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education: Hon B P Mbinqo-Gigaba MP (ANC) (Chairperson), Hon N G Adoons MP (ANC), Hon B Yabo MP (ANC), Hon W Letsie MP (ANC), Hon P R Moroatshehla MP (ANC), Hon E K Siwela MP (ANC), Hon B Nodada MP (DA), Hon D Van der Walt MP (DA), Hon N R Mashabela MP (EFF) and Hon M E Sukers MP (ACDP).


  1. The members of staff who formed part of the delegation were Mr L Brown (Committee Secretary), Ms S Mkosana (Committee Assistant) and Mr M Kekana (Parliamentary Researcher).



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 2022, 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 2022 at the Mosaiek Church in Randburg on Thursday, 20 January 2023.


3.         Presentation of the 2022 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examination Results Technical Briefing – Mr H M Mweli, Director-General: Department of Basic Education


Mr Mweli, in his opening remarks, touched on the strategic direction of the Department and how the National Development Plan guided the work of the Department. In respect of the size and shape of the Basic Education Sector, Mr Mweli gave a detailed overview number of learners, educators and schools in the ordinary school sector for all provinces in 2021. Currently the schooling system comprised of 13 419 971 learners, 450 993 educators and 24 871 schools. Independent schools comprised 703 092 learners, 42 073 educators and 2 154 schools.  


The Director-General also alluded to the Social Justice Principles used to measure progress in Basic Education – these included Access, Redress, Equity, Efficiency, Quality and Inclusivity. In respect of the results of the General Household Survey (GHS) 2021, Mr Mweli gave a detailed breakdown of the following:

  • Participation in Education Institutions;
  • Repetition;
  • Early Childhood Development;
  • Out of School Children; and
  • National School Nutrition Programme.


The National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination results were one of the most important barometers to evaluate the success of the sector. Progress in the sector has also been confirmed in the international and regional assessment programmes. The establishment of the Systemic Evaluation Programme would provide the Department with performance trends in Grades 3, 6 and 9 and the establishment of the General Education Certificate (GEC) would provide a standardised assessment at the end of Grade 9. The Department also measured performance against the Social Justice Principles (Access, Redress, Equity, Quality, Efficiency & Inclusivity).


Mr Mweli also touched on the NSC promotional requirements for admission to a Bachelors Field Study, Diploma Field Study, Higher Certificate Field Study as well as the National Senior Certificate. For the Class of 2022, the Director-General alluded to the unique educational context. Further to this, the presentation also covered the following:

  • Tracking the Class of 2022 from Grade 1 – 12; and
  • Performance tracking in Grade 10 – 12.


The Director-General also alluded to some of the following key areas in respect of the number enrolled/wrote as follows:

  • Full-time enrolled 1994 to 2022 (National);
  • NSC Part-time enrollments 2018 to 2022;
  • NSC Full-time cohort 2021 – 2022;
  • Candidates enrolled/wrote (part-time) 2021-22;
  • Enrolment in terms of gender;
  • NSC Home Language subject enrollment 2018 – 2022;
  • NSC subject enrolment 2018 – 2022;
  • New subject enrollment;
  • Technical subject enrolment;
  • South African Sign Language enrolment;
  • NSC 2021/2022 Progressed Learners;
  • Full-time enrolment by age;
  • Enrolment of Special Needs Learners NSC 2021-2022;
  • SNE Concessions and Accommodations (2022);
  • Correctional Services enrolment; and
  • Social Grant enrolments.


In respect of the extra-ordinary learner support programme, Mr Mweli alluded to the WOZA Matric outputs as well as the distinct features for learner support. In respect of the scope and size of the 2022 NSC Examinations the Department shared details in respect of the following:

  • Scope and size of the 2022 NSC examinations;
  • Standardisation of NSC Results 2008 – 2022;
  • Matric historical trends;
  • Performance of the Class of 2022;
    • NSC Passes by Qualification type; and
    • School performance by Quintile, Age and Gender.
  • Performance based on the Inclusive Basket;
  • Overall achievement according to Fee Paying Status;
  • Subject Performance;
  • Performance of Schools and Districts;
  • Special Needs Education;
  • Performance of Progressed Learners;
  • Distinctions;
  • Social Grant beneficiary performance;
  • Correctional Services performance; and
  • Performance of Part-Time candidates.


In summarising, the Director-General indicated that there was general improvement in the areas of access, redress, equity, efficiency, quality and inclusivity​ as follows:


  • Access
    • 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 a NSC, an increase of 41 819 from 2021
    • 22 783 more candidates attaining admission to Bachelor Studies compared to 2021​
    • A total of 448 392 (71.27%) of Social grant learners attained an NSC
  • Redress
    • 387 401 candidates from “no-fee” schools obtained an NSC compared to 170 080 from “Fee paying” schools​
    • 77.2% of the “No-fee” learners achieved an NSC
    • 169 903 (33.9%) of the 501 759 “no fee” learners attained admission to Bachelors Studies​
    • 273 065 (55.7%) of the 490 231 "no-fee" learners have 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
    • 3 440 (6.1%) up from last years (6.68%) of the progressed learners obtained admission to Bachelor Studies.  ​
  • Equity
    • 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



  • Quality
    • 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 went up from 211 745 in 2021 to 218 770 in 2022.
    • 472 171 candidates (65.1%), who achieved admission to Bachelor and Diploma studies, are eligible to register for studies at higher education institutions
    • Only 4 of the 75 districts performing below 70%
    • Forty-two (42) of the 75 districts perform at 80%​ and above compared to 26 in 2021.
  • Efficiency
    • 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 who were in Grade 1 in 2011 enrolled for the Grade 12 in 2022 and 579 506 passed
    • Only 3.9% learners enrolled did not write the Exams
    • 47 (71%) were retained on raw marks, 3 adjusted downwards and 16 upward in terms of Umalusi Standardization decision
    • In terms of standardization 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.
  • Inclusivity
    • 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 892 (79%) learners attained the NSC
    • 439 learners with Special Education Needs attained admission to Bachelor Studies, 264 achieved admission to Diploma Studies and 108 achieved admission to Higher Certificate Studies​​


In conclusion, the Director-General, Mr H M Mweli indicated that despite the challenges, the Class of 2022 had demonstrated their resilience and resolve to overcome the odds. An indication that the schooling system was maturing and was developing a capability to deal with unexpected challenges. The system had shown significant improvements across all areas. Commendation and appreciation was expressed to learners, parents, educators and all stakeholders.



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


In her opening remarks, the Minister indicated that, in announcing the 2022 NSC exam results, one needed to be mindful of the reality that, at the heart of any development within the Basic Education Sector, must obviously be what learners learn.  This point was clearly articulated in the Action Plan 2019 – Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2030; the National Development Plan (NDP), Vision 2030; the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA, 2024) on the African Agenda 2063; and the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goal, Number 4 (SDG4). It continues to be of great significance for South Africa’s development that learning outcomes, according to reliable standardised testing programmes, such as the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SEACMEQ), the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), have improved progressively over the years.  But equally, the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning since March 2020, continue to be a cause for great concern.


It needed to be conceded upfront that prior to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trajectory of improvement, as demonstrated through the SAECMEQ, PIRLS and the TIMSS, had undoubtedly been interrupted by the pandemic.  As Government, especially the Department of Basic Education, together with the Provincial Education Departments and strategic partners within the Basic Education Sector, the Department had placed the highest priority on regaining the lost ground; and return the schooling system to its earlier improvement trajectory. The Department was also announcing the 2022 NSC exam results fully cognisant of the context that the NDP enjoined the Department to observe; namely –


By 2030, South Africans should have access to education and training of the highest quality, leading to significantly improved learners’ outcomes.  The performance of South African learners in international standardised tests, should be comparable to the performance of learners from countries at a similar level of development, and with similar levels of access”.


In respect of the scope and size of the 2022 National Senior Certificate Examinations, the Minister indicated that the NSC exams were viewed by many, as the second largest enterprise to the National General Elections in South Africa.  There were lobbyists though, who continue to contest this assertion, in preference of the elections of school governing bodies. In addition to managing the NSC exams for more than nine hundred and twenty (920) thousand candidates, who enrolled the 2022 NSC examinations:

  • The Department had set one hundred and sixty-two (162) question papers;
  • The Department printed ten point four (10.4) million question papers;
  • The Department produced nine point eight (9.8) million scripts;
    • which were delivered countrywide to six thousand, nine hundred and four (6 904) secure examination centres;
    • n which seventy-three thousand (73 000) invigilators were on duty;
    • fifty-two thousand (52 000) markers were appointed; and
    • in one hundred and eighty-seven (187) secure marking centres.


Some of the other features of the 2022 NSC exams included a high degree of stability in the system, albeit the irregularities reported in a few provinces.  There was much improved data collection, data analysis, and data feedback processes within the DBE; and more importantly, the Class of 2022 showed the greatest determination and fortitude ever – a good sign of a maturing and resilient Basic Education system on the rise.


The Minister also mentioned that Umalusi declared on the credibility and integrity of the 2022 NSC examinations as follows:


The examinations were administered largely in accordance with the Regulations Pertaining to the Conduct, Administration and Management of the NSC.  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 NSC examinations administered by the DBE.  The Executive Committee of Council therefore, approved the release of the DBE November 2022 NSC examination results ...


During the standardisation process of the 2022 NSC exams, the DBE presented sixty-six (66) subjects to Umalusi.  It was gratifying to note that Umalusi –


  • had accepted the raw marks of forty-seven (47) subjects – this was equivalent to 71.2% – compared to 35 subjects standardised in 2021;
  • had adjusted sixteen (16) subjects upwards – this was equivalent to 24.2% – compared to 28 subjects standardised in 2021; and
  • had adjusted three (3) subjects downwards – this was equivalent to 4.5% – compared to four subjects standardised in 2021.

Umalusi commended the DBE for conducting such a successful examination on such a large scale.


Minister Motshekga also gave a detailed overview of the unique profile of the Matric Class of 2022. She further alluded to the distinct features for the learner support programmes as well as the context of the National Senior Certificate Examinations results of the Class of 2022. Further to this the Minister also touched on the following key areas:

  • Learners with Special Education Needs;
  • Benefits of the pro-poor policies of Government on the 2022 NSC exam results;
  • Internal efficiencies of the Basic Education system;
  • Candidates who were recipients of Social Grants;
  • Candidates in correctional facilities who sat for the 2022 NSC exams; and
  • Aggregation according to gender.


On the overall National Performance, the Minister indicated that the 2022 NSC overall pass rate had reached the 80.1% (compared with 76.4% in 2021) – an improvement of 3.7% from the pass rate achieved by the Class of 2021.  This, represented a record of five hundred and eighty thousand, five hundred and fifty-five (580 555) candidates, who passed the 2022 NSC examinations – an improvement of 7.9% passes by number, achieved by the Class of 2021. It needed to be noted that, while the pass rate in number of the Class of 2022 was the highest in the history of the National Senior Certificate examinations, when the pass rate was expressed as a percentage, that of the Class of 2019, which attained 81.3% pass rate, stood out as the highest so far. Further analysis of the 2022 NSC exam results, showed the following:  


  • The number of candidates qualifying for admission to Bachelor studies at universities, was two hundred and seventy-eight thousand, eight hundred and fourteen (278 814) – an improvement of 8.9% from 2021.  This represented 38.4% of the total number of candidates, who wrote the 2022 NSC examinations.  The 2022 Bachelor passes in number was the highest attained in the entire history of the NSC examinations; but the second highest to that attained in 2021, when expressed as a percentage.
  • KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng contributed the most Bachelor passes, with sixty-nine thousand, eight hundred and forty-nine (69 849) – an increase of 12.9% from 2021; and fifty-eight thousand, one hundred and nineteen (58 119) – an increase of 4.1% from 2021, respectively.  When combined, KZN and Gauteng contributed one hundred and twenty-seven thousand, nine hundred and sixty-eight (127 968) Bachelor passes – an improvement of 8.7% from 2021, and 45.9% of the overall Bachelor passes nationally.
  • The number of candidates, who passed with a Diploma, was one hundred and ninety-three thousand, three hundred and fifty-seven (193 357) – an improvement of 8.9% from 2021; which represented 26.7% of the total number of candidates, who wrote the 2022 NSC examinations.
  • The number of candidates, who passed with Higher Certificates was one hundred and eight thousand, one hundred and fifty-nine (108 159) – an improvement of 4.1% from 2021; and represented 14.9% of the total number of candidates, who wrote the 2022 NSC combined examinations.
  • The number of candidates, who passed with a National Senior Certificate (NSC) was one hundred and seventeen (117) – an improvement 13.6% from 2021; which represented one in a hundred (0.01%) of total number of candidates, who wrote the 2021 NSC examinations.


The Minister further alluded to statistics for candidates from fee-paying schools, Bachelor and Diploma passes as well as distinctions achieved in the various provinces. For Provincial level performance, the Minister shared the achievements by provinces as follows:


  • The Free State was the leading province at 88.5%, an increase of 2.8% from 2021.
  • Gauteng achieved at 84.4%, an increase of 1.6% from 2021.
  • KwaZulu-Natal, the best improved province, achieved 83.0%, an increase of 6.2% from 2021.
  • Western Cape achieved 81.4%, an increase of 0.2% from 2021.
  • North West achieved at 79.8%, an increase of 1.6% from 2021.
  • The third best improved province, was the Eastern Cape, with an achievement of 77.3%, an increase of 4.2% from 2021.
  • Mpumalanga achieved at 76.8%, a 2.9% increase from 2021.
  • Northern Cape achieved at 74.2%, a 2.7% increase from 2021.
  • The second best improved province, was Limpopo, with an achievement of 72.1%, a 5.3% increase from 2021.


None of the provinces performed below the 70% pass rate - and none had a decline when their 2022 results were compared with those of the previous year.  Five provinces performed above the 70% pass rate; and four provinces performed above the 80% pass rate.  The provinces with the highest improvements in their performances was KwaZulu-Natal with 6.2%; Limpopo with 5.3%; and the Eastern Cape with 4.2%. 


In respect of District Level performance, the Minister touched on the district performance and mentioned that, in the 2022 NSC examinations:


  • None of the 75 districts attained pass rates lower than 60%;
  • Four (4) districts – three (3) in Limpopo, and one (1) in the Northern Cape, performed at 60% and 69.9%;
  • Twenty-nine (29) districts – nine (9) in Eastern Cape, one (1) in KwaZulu-Natl, seven (7) in Limpopo, four (4) in Mpumalanga, two (2) in the North West, two (2) in the Northern Cape, and four (4) in the Western Cape, performed between 70% and 79%; and
  • Forty-two (42) districts – three (3) in the Eastern Cape, five (5) in the Free State, fifteen in Gauteng, eleven (11) in KwaZulu-Natal, two (2) in the North West, two (2) in the Northern Cape, and four (4) in the Western Cape, performed at 80% and above.


The top ten district level performances in the country were:


  • First, was Motheo in the Free State, with 90.8%.
  • Second, was Fezile Dabi in the Free State, with 90.4%.
  • Third, was Johannesburg West in Gauteng, with 89.7%.
  • Fourth, was Tshwane South in Gauteng, with 89.0.
  • Fifth, was Gauteng North in Gauteng, with 87.7%.
  • Sixth, was Xhariep in the Free State, with 87.5%.
  • Seventh, was Thabo Mafutsanyana in the Free State, with 87.3%.
  • Eighth, was Ugu in KwaZulu-Natal, with 87.2%.
  • Ninth, was Umkhanyakude in KwaZulu-Natal, with 86.3%.
  • Tenth, was Johannesburg North in Gauteng, with 86.2%.


In conclusion, the Minister indicated that there was no doubt that the Basic Education system had begun to reach the desired stability; which was healthy for a large and important system as ours.  The unquestionable resilience our school community had shown, against such a devastating pandemic; and other challenges, such as the persistent loadshedding, and sporadic service delivery protests, could not go by unnoticed.


Clearly, the system could not survive without the direct involvement of all communities of trust, not only those who are part of the Sector, but everyone.  The Class of 2022 had clearly demonstrated that with all requisite support and intervention programmes, they could make it.  The Department needed to prioritise interventions on teaching and learning losses.  Support and intervention programmes had to be implemented across the system.  With ECD the foundations of learning had to be strengthened from ECD, right through the system.


Steadily but surely, the Department was improving the throughput as well as the retention rates within our system.  The fact that the Department had broken what appeared to be a glass ceiling around five (500) thousand learners proceeding to Grade 12 over the years, was a clear sign of a maturing system on the rise.  More than seven hundred and seventy-five (775) thousand of the Class of 2022, survived through the system, and 96% of the Class of 2022, actually sat for the 2022 NSC exams.


An analysis of the internal system efficiency also demonstrated that the Department was not only improving the retention rates, by reducing dropout and repetition rates; but improving the quality and equality of teaching and learning outcomes.  The performance of the three most rural provinces in the county, could not go unnoticed.  The Department wished to congratulate the executive and management leaders, the teachers, the parents, the learners and other communities of trust who have made the improvements in the three most rural provinces possible.

The Department wished to recognise the confidence of communities have in the public education system.  The fact that there was more than nine hundred and twenty (920) thousand full-time and part-time candidates, enrolling for the 2022 NSC exams; and the fact that the number of candidates from Government subsidised independent schools, writing the DBE-managed NSC exams, showed the confidence communities have the systems. 


With the undivided focus on foundations of learning, with the support and intervention programmes rolled-out in our schools, with the teacher development programmes delivered to all our teachers, with strengthened and structured monitoring and evaluation oversight, The Department would turn the learning losses unceremoniously brought to us by the pandemic, the incessant loadshedding, and the service delivery protests, into fortunes that all could be proud of.


In celebrating the great achievements of the Class of 2022, there was a need to thank the principals, teachers, support staff, and parents for the work they continue to do.  Schools were at the coalface of Basic Education delivery.  The future of learners, and the prosperity of the nation, was in their hands. 


The Minister thanked His Excellency, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Cabinet; the Portfolio and Select Committees responsible for Basic Education; the Honourable Deputy Minister – Dr Reginah Mhaule; the Honourable MECs responsible for Basic Education and their respective Heads of Departments for their stewardship, their leadership and their continued advice and support.  She also thanked the Director-General and his team of selfless officials for the hard work they continued to do. Lastly she thanked their strategic partners – teacher unions; school governing body associations; business partners working directly with the Department through the NECT; the NECT; statutory bodies – Umalusi and SACE; researchers, whose work they could not do without; sister departments; South Africans, who together, have made the stability and the improvement of the Sector their responsibility.  She also singled out and thank MTN for sponsoring the event.


The evening was concluded with a vote of thanks by the Deputy Minister and Director-General. This was followed by a ceremony acknowledging the top achievers in specific subjects and quintiles – as well as the overall top achievers in the country.


Report to be noted.