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Statement by Minister Pandor on the release of the 2007 senior certificate examination results, Pretoria, 28 December 2007 press



Statement by Naledi Pandor MP, Minister of Education, on the release of the 2007 senior certificate examination results, Sol Plaatje, Pretoria

28 December 2007

Umalusi has approved the 2007 senior certificate examinations. In their report Umalusi notes that “generally the papers were of a high standard and conformed to national policy and guidelines”.

The report points to a few concerns that require attention.

These include poor translation of papers, and some basic errors in the format of question papers.

The examiners, moderators and advisers must be commended on their diligent efforts at ensuring that from the question paper perspective, South Africa can claim a high quality process.

On the moderation of internal assessment UMALUSI reported that moderation of internal assessment covered all eleven national subjects. Learner and educator portfolios from the nine Provincial Departments of Education and the two independent assessment bodies were moderated. The report finds that ; “some of the assessment bodies are making remarkable strides in improving the conduct and management of the internal assessment system as well as its implementation while others are still experiencing significant challenges at some levels of implementation”. The findings of UMALUSI will be used to assist the system to strengthen this very important part of the Senior Certificate assessment.

The report also covers registration, moderators, marking and other important aspects of this national exam. We will carefully consider the advice of the quality assurer and take the steps necessary to enhance the progress achieved in the last decade.

The report concludes: “On the whole , Umalusi is satisfied that the 2007 examinations were conducted in a manner that renders them fair, valid and reliable. Umalusi wishes to acknowledge that there were a few reported irregularities but these were addressed appropriately, and therefore Umalusi endorses the fact that the credibility of the 2007 examinations is above reproach.”

The teachers, schools and candidates of this year's exam must be congratulated for having received such a positive report from UMALUSI. As you are all aware, the national pass percentage for 2007 is 65,2%. This is 1,4% below the pass rate of 2006. It is another decline in the pass rate; a fact that must cause us all to worry and spur us on to exert even greater effort in 2008 to ensure that many more young people achieve quality passes. Nevertheless, I offer our congratulations to all those who have passed their Senior Certificate examinations. To those who did not achieve a pass this year, I urge you not to despair; I call on you to join us in 2008 in our national tutorial programme for candidates who did not pass in 2007. Details of each provincial programme will be announced in all media in the next few weeks. If you wish to succeed we will provide you with all the necessary help.

The 2007 pass rate is positive in some respects and still negative in a number of our key performance criteria. While we should celebrate the successes, our primary response must be our assertion that we will continue to give emphasis to the implementation of effective strategies that will support increased success at all levels of schooling. It is clear from various studies and these results, that quality learning needs to be our concrete objective at all grades in our schools. A great deal of energy is devoted to grade twelve by all of us, however all the evidence is pointing much lower and we have to return our focus to the basics.

Before reflecting on what should happen from January 2008 it is useful to report on the detail of this year's results.

As I indicated, the national pass rate has declined to 65,2%. There are several reasons for this. One is that teachers are not yet teaching with the expectation that we will have tough papers that test high-level cognitive skills. All of us need to take learning and teaching far more seriously from grade R to grade 12.

Another is that national and provincial education departments are not administering or supporting the system with the high levels of administrative efficiency and service that should accompany a demanding curriculum and a high-stakes examination. An illustration of this is the fact that many schools spend two to three terms without textbooks, teachers get very little curriculum support, and teachers in grade 8 and 9 do not view their teaching as part of a skills-development continuum feeding into grade 12 and beyond.

Third, teaching time was lost during the public sector strike. While many schools and teachers made an excellent effort to recover, it is very difficult to retrieve lost learning time. While the recovery plan seems to have helped, not all of us took it seriously, and we missed the gains it could have brought to the learners.

A fourth point is that the poorest schools continue to perform badly. We are not giving sufficient impetus to the strategies necessary for the eradication of inequity. The gateway subjects are not being treated as key priorities by the provinces. We have unqualified teachers in some classroom s, inadequate laboratories, and negligible support to schools.

Fifth, we still do not have a national challenge to mediocrity and a commitment to the pursuit of quality outcomes. If all South Africans resolved to make schools work, South Africa would have a much higher rate of success. We must get learning and teaching right.

The most striking feature of the grade 12 class of 2007 is that it is the largest in our history of examining at this level. A total of 564,775 candidates sat for the exam, and 368,217passed. Some 85,454 candidates passed with endorsement, 376 less than in 2006.

This is a worrying decline as we need to increase the number of candidates for entry to higher-education programmes. I have directed the Department to analyse the results of every school to establish exactly which schools are serial under-performers and also to find out which of our more able schools have begun to decline into complacency and mediocrity.

I am initiating such a review because there may be some schools that previously had endorsement passes and now no longer enter candidates to achieve endorsements.

I also note with some alarm the inadequate progress in our higher grade passes in mathematics and science. However, as the table below illustrates there are encouraging signs of progress.



Maths HG

Maths SG


Science HG

Science SG


























































These results cause the alarm bells to ring very loudly. Our dinaledi schools initiative must be given focused attention and support by every province, as must our priority of ensuring that every child studying mathematics and science has a qualified and competent teacher in their classroom . As I have stated before we will achieve success in these gateway subjects once we offer quality maths and science in every secondary school in South Africa .

The provincial outcomes reveal several negative features and some reasons for celebration. The Eastern Cape achieves a 57.1% pass rate and 6,466 (9.4%) endorsement.

Some of you may recall my concern earlier this year at the promotion of learners who had failed grade 11. We will study the Eastern Cape results with the province to understand the impact of the grade 11 failures. The Eastern Cape improved its performance in 2006, and in 2005 I believe that this decline is a temporary reversal. We will work closely with the province and all stakeholders to ensure it is a temporary reversal.

Limpopo achieves a pass rate of 57.9%, a slight increase on the 2006 pass rate of 55.7%. The endorsement passes are 11,333 (11.7%). The province experienced a significant movement of staff and continues to have gaps at senior and management levels. These gaps must be addressed and stability encouraged. Limpopo has traditionally provided a significant number of endorsements. Thus, the lower number of these passes in 2007 needs to be attended to in 2008.

Mpumalanga achieves a pass rate of 60.7%, a decline of 4,6% as compared to 2006. Of these 6,561 (12.7%) candidates obtained endorsement, a positive increase on the 2006 outcome.

North West achieves a pass rate of 67.2%, a 0,2% increase on the 2006 result. Of these 5,061 (15,9%) candidates obtained endorsement, a further increase on the 2006 performance of candidates in the province.

Kwazulu Natal achieves a pass rate of 63.8 % a decline of 1, 9%. Of these 21 443 candidates (14.5%) obtained endorsement

Free State achieves a pass rate of 70,5%, a decline of 1,7% on the 2006 result. Of these 5,776 (18,9% ) candidates obtained endorsement.

Free State is one of the provinces that seems to consistently do well. We will be drawing on lessons from their learner-support programme and their twinning and management mentor initiatives.

Northern Cape achieves a pass rate of 70,3% a decline of 6,5% on the 2006 result. Of these 1 208 (11,9%) candidates obtained endorsements this is an increase on their 2006 endorsement passes.

Gauteng achieves a pass rate of 74,6%, a decline of 3,7% on the 2006 result. Of these 17,307 (20,4%) candidates obtained endorsement. Gauteng must be congratulated for the number of endorsements.

Western Cape achieves a pass rate of 80,6%, the top pass rate of all provinces, yet still a decline of 3,1% on the 2006 result. Of these 10,300 (24,7%) candidates obtained endorsement.

The national pass rate requires concentrated analysis, reflection, and responses that directly address the inadequacies that are suggested by these results.

It would be dishonest to attach all blame to the strike, but the lost time is surely a factor in that time lost was not retrieved in all schools. Nevertheless, we must admit that the heroic effort and commitment shown by teachers, officials, and learners during the recovery programme illustrated the potential we have to achieve high levels of success in education. My thanks and congratulations to all who joined the effort to support learners to recover learning time lost during the industrial action. Thanks too to the teachers who ensured they returned to school to carry on teaching in record time.

One of the key lessons of the post-strike period is the clear indication that focused attention to learning, teacher presence in class and teaching, consistent provision of quality learning material, and learner concentration on learning and studying are key ingredients in achieving success in education.

If it were possible to replicate the commitment, purpose and effort we saw during the Saturday programmes, our learners would definitely benefit handsomely.

However, as I indicated earlier one event cannot fully explain the results we have noted this year. The recovery initiatives helped us to avert a disaster, but they are not the answer to our challenges.

A permanent infusion of quality requires dedicated attention to ECD, grade R – 9 and grade 10 -12. It is important for South Africa to agree that the pursuit and achievement of quality education is a national priority that we must pursue as part of our joint national agenda. Every person older than 6 must have the will and ambition to do well in school.

All adults should make education their issue. Every stakeholder every person must begin to ask their local schools to report on progress. Parents must take a keen and deep interest in success and district offices, teachers and school principals must internalize the fact that learner performance has to be one of the key performance measures in education.

Every school should commit to ensuring that basic skills for learning are provided to every child. Foundation skills of reading, writing and numeracy must become unambiguous objectives of every primary school. We must eliminate curriculum jargon that is diverting us from understanding these simple truths. Learning begins with reading, writing and numeracy. Advanced learning is made possible through our building on these core skills. Each level , each grade must emphasise the foundations and significantly add more complex cognitive skilling as learners rise in the education system.

We have begun to assert these truisms and to implement the necessary strategies and interventions.

I think that we sometimes take too long debating self-evident practical things that should be done.

All of us know that the most successful schools use all teaching time effectively. We know that teachers who know their subjects and strive each year to improve and renew their knowledge produce the best candidates in our system. It is well known that well-managed schools that have full stakeholder participation are the most successful. Further, it is an established fact that districts that have able professionals who support schools with accurate information on the curriculum and who provide informed curriculum workshops and support material assist schools to excel.

Beyond this, support through efficient administration, efficient procurement and general responsiveness also affects schools positively.

Clearly, then, as we reflect on the 2007 results we must acknowledge this is a system that still needs increased levels of support and planning if we are to expand success.

In conclusion, it is fair to comment on the possible impact of the learners who joined Gauteng , Mpumalanga , North West and Northern Cape as a result of cross boundary changes. Each province exerted great effort toward supporting new schools. As the Northern Cape has indicated, a great effort will be directed at assisting poorer schools to improve their results in 2008.

The Department should also respond concretely to the recommendations of Umalusi. We are very appreciative of the work the Council does in assuring quality. We will work hard at ensuring that the learners of 2008 achieve increased success at all levels of our system of education; let us make 2008 a year of quality opportunity and quality outcomes for every learner in every school.

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 6/30/2008
Number of Views: 936

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