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Consolidating our gains for a better life!

Good evening to fellow South Africans who are following these proceedings on radio and TV. And a warm welcome to Cabinet colleagues, learners, educators, parents and the various partners and stakeholders involved in education, non-governmental organisations, workers, private-sector, academics and citizens.

It is a privilege to report annually on matric results. This ranks among important indicators of performance of our schooling system. It is also a privilege to be able to use the opportunity to share with South Africans our progress and plans.

Progress in the schooling sector

We are making great strides as we will show in a report on progress in the schooling sector.

In our work, we are guided by our long-term strategy for improving education quality, Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025. Going-forward, performance in the National Senior Certificate examinations and in the Annual National Assessments (ANA) for Grades 3, 6 & 9 will provide evidence on whether we have achieved targets of our Action Plan.

We are proud to report that progress is very encouraging in the different areas of priority, including growth in Grade R enrolment which more than doubled between 2003 and 2011, more young South Africans are accessing basic education and completing Grade 12, and more young people are completing Grade 9, from 80% in 2003 to 88% in 2010.

We have pleasure in announcing that the national workbook programme will be extended from Grades 1 to 6 to Grades 7, 8 and 9 in all schools. This will help address access to educational materials and insufficient teacher guidance and to promote literacy and numeracy. These are signposts of progress and our focus on the early years of learning.

You will recall that in 2009 I received the review of the Revised National Curriculum Statement and recommendations for its streamlining into the national Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement. That work was completed in 2011.

The new CAPS constitutes one of the major steps to improve our curriculum. Every subject in each grade now has a single concise Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement which provides specific content on what teachers ought to teach and assess on a grade-by-grade and subject-by-subject basis.

This year, the CAPS will be introduced in Grades 1 to 3 and 10. Teachers have been trained and learning support materials developed for successful roll-out. We will support and monitor the implementation of this programme.

We also launched the Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development in April 2011, a product of the Teacher Development Summit of 2009.

The Framework places teachers at the centre of ongoing development while providing for active teacher participation and encouraging the establishment of communities of teacher professionals. We will use also specialist teams comprising our best teachers and educators from Higher Education Institutions and NGOs for quality teacher development.

In 2012 we will be fast-tracking, through the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI), the provision of school infrastructure to eliminate backlogs. Our aim is to deliver on basic school functionality targets during the 2010-2014 MTEF.

As this is meant to be an announcement of matric results, we will give full details on all our 2012 schooling plans at a press conference when inland schools reopen on 16 January 2012.

Education in 2011

In comparison to previous years, 2011 has been a very prolific and productive year for schooling. We have enjoyed a tremendous response from our people to President Zuma’s call to make education a societal issue. This has resulted in a sector that is much more bolder in carrying out its service delivery mandate. We are grateful to teacher unions and all educators for helping us put the education of our children first.

The Class of 2011

The number of candidates who sat for matric exams in 2011 was 496 090 compared to 537 543 in 2010, a decrease by 41 453. The number of part-time candidates who wrote in 2011 is 80 116.


On the matter of standardisation, we are very pleased that the 2011 National Senior Certificate examinations were incident-free and proceeded without significant problems. This goes to show the maturity of our examination system. We will continue to sustain and consolidate these standards.

We have consistently worked on improving the administration of the exam process. It is reassuring to note that there were no leaks of examination papers or serious irregularities that would have compromised the integrity of the 2011 exams.

On 23 December 2011, Umalusi, the quality assurance body, convened the standardisation meeting at which performance in each subject was analysed statistically and qualitatively to ensure current performance was in keeping with performance in previous years.

Umalusi was able to use raw scores for the majority of subjects. Out of the 56 subjects that were standardised, the raw scores of 45 were accepted. Of those that were adjusted, 8 were taken down, and only 3 were taken up.

On 29 December 2011, Umalusi announced that the 2011 NSC examinations were fair, valid and credible and that all processes met their standards.

The Star newspaper had earlier reported (on 28 December) that experts found that the “matric papers were fair”.

2011 National Results

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – the pass rate! In the past years, the pass rate has been cause for concern. In 2008 it was 62.5%, in 2009 60.6% and in 2010 it rose to 67.8%.

It gives me great pleasure to invite Deputy Minister Surty to join me on stage to release the national pass rate.

[Opening of envelope]

I am pleased to announce that the national pass rate for the Class of 2011 is 70.2%. This pass-rate, of 70.2%, represents an increase of 2.4% on the 2010 results (67.8%).

348 117 learners out of a total of 496 090 have passed.

Accordingly, South Africa congratulates the Class of 2011!

The percentage of Grade 12 learners who qualified for Bachelor’s studies was 20.1% in 2008, 19.9% in 2009 and 23.5% in 2010. It has now increased to 24.3% (in 2011).

A total of 104 033 learners has passed Mathematics while 96 441 learners have passed Physical Science.

Given the importance of Physical Science and Mathematics, we have set ambitious targets for them. We are therefore pleased with improved performance in Physical Science.

We remain concerned about the number of passes in Mathematics – 104 033 in 2011 – which is less than the 124 749 of 2010. The pass rate for Mathematics is 46.3% in 2011, a decline from 47.4% in 2010.

The pass rate for Physical Science in 2011 is 53.4% as compared to 47.8% in 2010.

The number of passes in Mathematical Literacy is 236 548 for 2011 compared to 241 576 for 2010.

We have a strategy in place which we will vigorously implement in 2012 to improve the pass rate and the quality of Mathematics and Physical Science – the National Strategy for Mathematics, Science and Technology Education.

Our focus will be on four areas: (1) improving the participation and performance of girl learners; (2) helping schools to improve learners’ subject choices; (3) ensuring correct placement of teachers; and (4) focusing teacher development efforts on subject and pedagogical content knowledge.

A vital part of our strategy is working with partners, including those in the private sector, higher education institutions and NGOs. These partners are numerous, but I want to mention the Shuttleworth Foundation which has developed maths and science textbooks for Grades 10, 11 and 12, free of charge. We will distribute them to schools as from this year.

Provincial results

We expected improved performance from all provinces and provinces worked very hard from the beginning of the year.

Provincial pass rates are as follows, in ascending order: Eastern Cape achieved 58.1%, down from 58.3% in 2010, and a decline of 0.2%.

Limpopo achieved 63.9%, up from 57.9% and an improvement of 6.0%. Mpumalanga reached 64.8%, up from 56.8% representing the largest improvement by a province, of 8%. KwaZulu-Natal achieved 68.1%, down from 70.7% in 2010, and a decline of 2.6%.

Northern Cape achieved 68.8%, down from 72.3% in 2010, a decline of 3.5%. Free State achieved 75.7%, up from 70.7%, an improvement of 5.0%. North West achieved 77.8%, up from 75.7%, an improvement of 2.1%. Gauteng achieved 81.1%, up from 78.6% in 2010 and an improvement of 2.5%.

Western Cape has registered the highest pass rate, at 82.9%, up from 76.8% in 2009, an improvement of 6.1%. Well done to MEC Grant and his team!

When I announced the NSC results for 2010, I indicated that the national Department would hand over the administration of the NSC exams to Mpumalanga. Accordingly, I would like to congratulate the MEC and her team for all their efforts and their cooperation with the national team so well.


District performance

On District performance, of the 81 districts in the country, 66 are performing at 60% and above passes, 10 are performing between 50% and 59%, while 5 are below 49%. The five poorest performing Districts are Butterworth, Fort Beaufort, Libode, Mt Frere and Sterkspruit (all in the Eastern Cape).

Of the other 10 poorly performing districts, 6 are in the Eastern Cape (Dutywa, King Williams Town, Lusikisiki, Mbizana, Queenstown and Qumbu), and 1 in Obonjeni in Kwazulu Natal, Waterberg in Limpopo, Bohlabela in Mpumalanga and John Taolo Gaetsewe in the Northern Cape.

Our priorities

The eradication of inequality is the most important priority across all of government endeavours and is certainly an important priority in education.

We still have a long way to go and the eradication of inequality remains a key priority in the schooling system.

To build on our achievements, we have agreed with education MECs on key priority areas for 2012. We have agreed on an integrated planning process for the sector better to align our plans and strategies.

This will help in achieving the targets of the Action Plan and in the Delivery Agreement for Outcome 1 of government, that is, an improved quality of basic education.

As much as we encourage the nation to show interest in matric results, it is important to concern ourselves more with what is happening in the entire system, Foundation, Intermediate and Senior Phases in particular.

While the results of the 2011 Annual National Assessments were generally unfavourable, they revealed the full extent of learner performance deficits in the system. More importantly, they gave us a benchmark which will help us monitor progress or lack thereof in subsequent tests.

Through ANA, we now know exactly where the problems are and are better equipped to deal with them.  

So in 2012, we will focus on the refinement of ANA and step up our work on the early years of schooling. All learners in Grades 1 to 6 and 9 will write the 2012 ANA from 18 to 21 September (2012). These assessments will help in tracking progress and in promoting quality teaching and learning.

Parents should receive a report from school principals on their children’s performance by October 2012. We hope to announce the national results (of ANA) in December 2012.

Our Planning & Delivery Oversight Unit will support districts, particularly low performing districts. Working closely with provinces, it will assist in developing and implementing credible plans for school improvement.

In line with the Planning Commission’s recommendations on improving school functionality, DBE, working with provinces, will send teams to the 15 districts that performed under 60% – 11 in the Eastern Cape, 1 each in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape.

These teams will not only be expected to identify challenges but also to deal with those challenges as all Districts are expected to perform at the national average of 70% for 2012.

Our intervention teams will also go to all schools that performed under 40% in 2011, which are, in the main, the small and rural schools that need consolidating into more vibrant and efficient schools.

By the end of the first term, they will report on credible plans to improve learner outcomes both in terms of quality of passes and the numbers going through. All schools are also expected to perform above the national average of 70%.

More importantly, this year’s focus will be on ensuring that principals appreciate the fact that their first responsibility is that of curriculum leaders, and they should therefore pay more attention to ensuring effective and efficient curriculum implementation in their schools.   

Processes are being finalised at the Education Labour Relations Council for the evaluation of principals and deputy principals in terms of the Education Management Service: Performance Management and Development System. They will be required to sign performance agreements. This is meant to strengthen accountability levels.

On the matter of learner wellbeing, to address key health barriers to learning in order to improve learning outcomes, the Departments of Basic Education and Health will jointly implement the School Health Screening Programme. We are currently developing, with Health, an Integrated School Health Programme.

Message for the Class of 2011

Once more, we congratulate the Class of 2011 for a job well done, particularly those who performed exceptionally well. Some of you may be disappointed with your results. There are many options open to you to improve your results.

You have completed at least twelve years of schooling. You have done this at considerable cost to yourselves, your parents, your families and the country. You cannot give up now.

Message for the Class of 2012

To the Class of 2012 I want to say that there are great role-models whose larger-than-life endeavours should challenge you to aim high.

In the centenary year of the ANC, we salute one remarkable African teacher to whom we are forever indebted for the democracy we enjoy today – the legendary OR Tambo.

Orphaned at the age of 16, Cde Oliver Tambo pursued his studies, against all odds. In December 1938, he sat for matric exams and passed with an A in Mathematics and a B in Physics and Chemistry, among others.

As educationists, we cherish the fact that he trained as a teacher and taught at Saint Peters College in Johannesburg. It is this role-model you must emulate.

I wish to thank all education MECs, provincial officials and the team at national office for their dedication and sterling work.

I thank and commend my colleague, Deputy Minister Surty, our DG Bobby Soobrayan and DDG Padayachee and his exams’ team for managing this significant national event with aplomb.

More importantly, I thank the President for his unwavering support for education, guidance and commitment and my fellow cabinet colleagues especially the team of Ministers who, in addition to their own work, support us in our the Eastern Cape Section 100 1(b) intervention.

All thanks to the different teacher unions, parents, students and the QLTC for working tirelessly to ensure quality learning and teaching in our schools.  It would be remiss of me not to convey our heartfelt gratitude to all the people and organisations who have supported education in one way or another.


To conclude, the 2011 matric results mark a decisive shift from the trend of years past. We have arrested the decline by registering a significant improvement across the system. We must now work even harder to ensure that these improvements are sustained and that we make qualitative improvements in all areas of learning especially in the gateway subjects and in the entire system.

We must ensure progressive improvement not only in the pass rate, but also in the quality of passes achieved by poor learners in the system. As we celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2011, we commit to the nation today that our approach of business unusual will continue into 2012 and beyond.

We wish all learners the very best in this new academic year and call upon all once more to work with us to improve on this year’s results.

With your help the rigorous and systematic transformation of the education system must and will continue. 2012 must help us make a BIG BANG on the gains we made in 2011.

I thank you.


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Statement during the announcement of the 2011 National Senior Certificate Grade 12 Examination Results by Mrs Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education National Library Auditorium: 04 January 2012


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