MEC Speech For 2017 Matric Class

Posted on Friday, 05 January 2018

By Communications

Category: Latest News

1.    Introduction:

The National Development Plan places education as a significant lever of change in the fight against poverty, past inequities and inequalities, and a critical driver of  development in the new South Africa, hence Education as an Apex Priority.  Given the potential multiplicity of its impact on the lives of the poor, it stands to reason that education and training in the Eastern Cape must make significant impacts in the lives of young people of the province.

This is the context in which the Department is presenting the 2017 Matric results. I am happy to announce that the Matric Class of 2017 improved the Eastern Cape National Senior Certificate results by a whopping 5.7%, from 59.3% in 2016 to 65% in 2017. This is a third year in succession of Matric results improvement in the Eastern Cape since 2015.

These improvements must be seen in the context of a system wide Education System Transformation Plan that was adopted by the Executive Council and implemented in January 2016. The strategic thrust of the plan is to maximise opportunities of learners achieving a good pass in the National Senior Certificate while improving performance in the whole system.

Two strategic levers of the Plan made significant impact in the final outcome of the 2017 matric Results, and these are:

§  Ensuring basic requirements for teaching and learning are in place

§  Special interventions aimed at learning and teaching enrichment

In 2017 the Department took extra-ordinary steps to ensure that basic requirements for effective teaching are in place by ensuring that:

§  there is a teacher present in every class

§  every teacher is in class and teaching

§  every learner has a textbook for every subject

§  every learner has a chair and a writing place

§  quality tests (SBAs) are developed and administered

§  learners receive additional subject support

§  schools are effectively monitored and supported by Subject Advisors

Secondly, is the impact of special interventions deliberately designed to enrich teaching and learning at school level, and these included:

§  the provision of supplementary materials such as Study Tips for Success, Mind the Gap Study Guides, and Past Examination papers

§  Contact sessions such as Saturday and afternoon Classes, Winter and Spring Schools, as we as teaching up to the final examination

§  Advocacy and stakeholder mobilisation in the form of the Last Push Campaign

2017 Matric Results

Overall Pass

In 2017, the Department fielded 67 648 learners that wrote all subjects and 43 981 passed the national senior certificate examinations at required levels. The brought to pass rate to 65%


Bachelor Passes

The number of Bachelor passes increased from 19% in 2016 to 23% in 2017, representing a 4% increase. This is a phenomenal improvement to previous years as the proportion of learners obtaining a Bachelor pass has never surpassed 20% since 2014. 


Subject Performance

Of the 39 subjects written in the EC, only 12 declined. These are small enrollment subjects except for Accounting and Business Studies. Commendable improvements were registered in the big enrolment subjects with;

  • Agriculture improving by 1%, from 71.5% to 72.5%
  • Economics by 5.6% from 54.5% to 60.1%
  • Geography by 0.5% from 69.3% to 69.8%
  • History by 4.5% from 74.8% to 79.4%
  • Life Sciences by 6.8% from 61.7% to 68.5%


Natural Sciences took a new turn in performance improvement with

  • Math Literacy improving by 8.3% from 56.1% to 64.4%
  • Mathematics by 4.8% from 37.5% to 42.3%
  • Physical Science by 7.7% from 49.6% to 57.3%



Mathematics has somehow rewritten the mathematical sciences narrative, where Eastern Cape was the first Province to field more Mathematics learners than Math Literacy and yet afforded to improve by 7.7%. Mathematics fielded 35 994 learners compared to 34 609 learners that wrote Mathematical Literacy.  



Languages with the exception of Afrikaans and English Home Languages, showed improvement with;

  • IsiXhosa Home Language remaining at 99.8%
  • Sesotho improving by 0.1% from 99.2% to 99.3%
  • IsiZulu improving by 20% from 80% to 100%



The number of candidates obtaining distinctions improved in 2017.

a. Overall percentage improvement moved from 2.1% in 2016 to 2.7% in 2017

b. Cluster A distinctions improved from 1.6% in 2016 to 2.4% in 2017

c. Cluster B distinctions improved from 2.6% in 2016 to 3% in 2017

d. Nelson Mandela Bay had the highest percentage at 4.5% of Distinctions

e. Buffalo City was second at 3.9%

f. OR Tambo Inland was third at 3.4%

District Performance

2 Districts performed above 70% pass; and 8 Districts performed between 60-69% pass mark, resulting in 10 of the 12 Districts performing above 60%, with only 2 Districts performing below 60%

  • NMB was the leading District at 72.6%,
  • Sarah Baartman followed at 71.8%.
  • OR Tambo Inland improved at 69.3%
  • Chris Hani West also improved at 67.9%
  • Alfred Nzo West made some gains at 67.3%
  • Joe Gqabi improved at 67%

4 Districts registered quality Bachelor passes that surpassed the Provincial average, and these are:

§  Nelson Mandela Bay at 28.7%

§  Buffalo City at 27.3%

§  OR Tambo Coastal at 26.6%

§  OR Tambo Inland at 26.3

However, there are Districts who performed commendably such that they are worth mentioning:

§  OR Tambo Coastal improved  by 14.9% from 46.7% to 61.7%

§  Chris Hani East improved by 9% from 52.8% to 61.8%

§  Alfred Nzo East improved by 7.1% from 55.3% to 62.4%

§  NMB improved by 6.9% from 65.7% to 72.6%

§  Chris Hani West improved by 5.8% from 62.1% to 67.9%


Schools Performance

Schools performance per centile have shown encouraging trends. The number of schools between the 10th and 50th percentile has dropped while numbers between the 60th and 90th percentile have picked. Here are the current trends on percentiles that dropped;

§  School between 10-20% dropped from 32 to 20

§  Schools between30- 40% dropped from 98 to 79

Percentiles that picked up are as follows;

§  Schools between 60-70% increased from 110 to 156

§  Schools between 80-90% improved from 87 to 125

§  School between 90-100% improved from 60 to 79

However, schools have registered a zero percent pass. One of the tw


What Worked in 2017.

The implementation of the Education System Transformation Plan has taught us one important lesson; where there was a concerted effort at implementation of the plan, results tended to speak for themselves. What it means is that where we gave extra effort to the implementation we bore results. 

Organisational Stability

Looking back at efforts undertaken through the Education System Transformation Plan, inroads made were quite commendable. First, is the stabilization of Head Office and the appointment of a permanent Head of Department supported by DDGs and Chief Directors.  Secondly, is the rollout of the new Service Delivery Model and the subsequent establishment of new 12 Education Districts headed by a District Director. If current District performance trend is anything to go by, District performance in 2018 will improve by larger margins. More efforts will therefore go into consolidation of the 12 new Districts.

Thirdly is the appointment of Circuit Mangers and Subject Advisors to strengthen school management and curriculum leadership. A Circuit Manager is responsible for 25 to 30 schools, thereby resulting in shorter cycles of decision making and resolution of challenges at local level. Training and Development programs are continuous to induct and capacitate appointed Circuit Managers and Subject Advisors. 

Labour Stability

Labour stability has enormously improved, with all structures operating within the legislated frameworks. However, the Department has continued putting effort at relationship building with social partners resulting in Reference Groups and Joint Task Teams on a number of operational areas. We will continue building bridges for the sake of an African Child.


School Functionality Improvement

In 2017 the Department invested in management and leadership development of school principals, their deputies and Heads of Department as part of school functionality development. A number of programs were designed and rolled out across the system, ranging programs from training and development to information management systems improvement interventions. The range includes:

v Capacity development and training of  831 Principals on Data management as part of the Data Driven District management tool

v 396 Principals and 920 Heads of Department were trained on Curriculum Management and Supervision as part of curriculum delivery improvement efforts

v A new initiative focussing on establishment of Support Networks for Women Principals across the 12 districts

v Deployment of Coaches and Mentors to 163 underperforming schools as part of leadership development and support

v Accountability sessions  with Underperforming FET school Principals as part of school functionality development

v Governance

The introduction of data management had a huge impact on the system as it allowed the Department to disaggregate learner performance into trends and patterns that were useful for programming and targeting of performance improvement interventions. Data management at school level has subsequently improved, with 94% of our schools submitting electronically by end of Term 2 in 2017.

Filling of Vacancies 

The stabilization of the PPN over the last 3 years has enabled the Department to tackle a number of HR inefficiencies with ease, and this includes the filling of funded vacant posts. To prevent long cycles of schools with vacancies, the Department delegated the appointment of PL1 teachers to District Directors, and Principal posts to Cluster Chief Directors. This made it easy to fill funded vacant posts in schools. In 2017 the Department issued a number of bulletins which were duly attended to by Districts and these are:

§  Promotion Bulletins Volume 1 and 2 issued in June 2017 for Principal posts; Deputy Principal Posts; HODs. These were concluded by 1 October 2017.

§  Promotion Bulletin issued in September 2017 for 308 Principal posts; 1003 Deputy Principal and HODs. These were concluded by 17 November 2017

§  Closed Bulletin for PL1 teachers issued on the 29 September 2017 targeting 3 089 Posts that were advertised


Curriculum Support Systems

Streamlining curriculum offerings in Secondary Schools to improve output at certificate level was an urgent priority. Curriculum Management Guidelines were issued to schools to guide schools in selection of winning subject combinations for Grades 10 to 12. To support this effort, 90 posts of Therapists were earmarked for all 12 Districts to give every learner a second chance in life by assessing learner capabilities in the early grades. To this end an “early learning disability detection” program in line with White Paper 6 was inaugurated.

Appointing Subject Advisors on merit will be the main focus


Protecting the Teaching Time

The Department released a circular instructing schools to observe and adhere to teaching times as prescribed in National policy pertaining to the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statements.

The Department further released a series of supplementary guidelines to all public schools to assist teachers with optimal utilization of prescribed teaching time per academic year. The Guideline is the Annual Teaching Plan for Grades R-9 and Grades 10-12 per subject per grade. The Department supplemented this with posters providing schools with an overview of the amount of work to be covered at various timelines of the academic year in line with CAPS prescriptions and the school terms.

An early warning system based on a Provincial Common Examinations was launched in 2016 focusing on the 11 high enrolment subjects in Grade 12, as well as Common Examinations for Grade 3, 6 and 9 in the GET Band. All performance improvement efforts in 2017 were informed by lessons learnt from March, June and September Common Examinations.

The Last Push 

The Department embarked on a support program that encouraged schools to use every bit of the last 100 days before the final examinations. The campaign was based on the following four assumptions:

§  All NSC 2017 Grade 12 candidates know what it takes to pass the NSC and obtain a Bachelor Pass – and that is NSC pass requirements against- their strengths and weaknesses, that is, which subjects and sections of the subjects do they need to concentrate on in the last 100 days; which sections of the curriculum are heavily weighted and carry high marks in the examinations; what is the layout, requirements and mark allocation of each examination paper. This information is available to EVERY learner.

§  For the last 100 days every NSC candidate was required to write past examination papers whether it is in class; in after-school homework sessions; during extra lessons; at home; or in a library.  This is the key to success in a pressured, time-bound written examinations. This practice was continued into November 2017 for every examination written. 

§  Learners attended extra lessons at their school, at other schools; on television; and on radio and these lessons focus on writing and passing past papers.

§  Schools submit appropriate and complete SBA marks on time.  


Going Forward

2018 will be our last year of implementing the Education System Transformation Plan, and therefore we need to review and consolidate beyond the ESTP. Plans are already in place for the mainstreaming of best practices. Going forward the Department has identified areas of special interest that deserve attention in 2018, and these are;

  • The rollout of the new 3 stream curriculum model to a larger number of schools in 2018.  
  • The strengthening of primary reading and mathematics as part of improving the quality of  Primary Education in the Eastern Cape
  • Special focus will be paid to the 2 Districts that performed below 60%.
  • Mathematics and Science deserves a renewed attention in 2018. Pass rates improved commendably in 2017 and learner intake has shown unparralled exponential growth over the last three years
  • Focus will be on guiding schools on the winning combination of matric subjects. Evidence is pointing to a good balance between Technical and Vocational streams; Hospitality and Consumer Studies, as well as Performing and Liberal Arts. These streams are showing good pass averages over the last three years.



The key message from the Class of 2017 is that the Eastern Cape is on the rise. Improvements made in 2017 must be seen in the light of interventions put in place to mitigate the impact of CAPS curriculum complexities.

However, my gratitude goes to the multitudes of our teachers who continue to serve our nation heroically and selflessly. Despite countless difficulties our teachers have decided to stick to the profession fulfilling their sacred duty of imparting knowledge and educating.

Let me also extend a hand of acknowledgement to our parents, schools communities and our officials for their exceptional deeds of valour and sacrifice. They have always ensured that kids are at school against all odds. A word of wisdom as we part ways.

  • Let us learn to respect the peasantry and the working class and live with them
  • The life of an ordinary human being is worth a million times more than all the property of the richest man on earth
  • The pride of serving our fellow human being is much more important than a good income
  • People’s gratitude is much more lasting than all the gold one can accumulate 


I thank you


M Makupula, MPL
MEC for Education


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Siyanda Mda commented on 07 Jan, 2018 06:07

A very good analysis of what worked and what still needs to happen. ☺ The hard work put in by educators deserves a special mention, especially those in rural areas. These educators put in extra effort, without any remuneration, to ensure the learners perform at their optimum best. In OR Tambo Coastal district, these schools; Siwali SS, Toli SS, Langa SS, Ben Mali SS, Lutshaya SS, Ntafufu SS and Meyisi SS - deserve a special mention for their sterling performance in these examinations.

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