Gauteng matriculants have achieved their best results since the birth of democracy, the opening of education to all, and the creation of the province twenty years ago.
Besides the pass rate of 87% for 2013 – up from 83.9% a year ago – the detailed results underline the increasing quality and consistency of the teaching and learning in schools in the province. The 2013 results show that
· Gauteng achieved 17.42% more bachelor passes than a year ago, which means that 38 104 learners have earned the right to apply for further education, up by 5 655 on a year ago
· at the same time, the province has produced an increase in diploma passes of 10.82%
· all in all, 85 122 Gauteng learners passed matric in 2013, up by 9 888 learners or 13.14% when compared with 2012
“These figures indicate that we have not only managed to keep pace as the numbers of learners have grown with the expanding numbers of residents in Gauteng,” said Education MEC Barbara Creecy, “but that we have in fact set the pace when it comes to empowering children from the African majority by continually improving their access to the quality education which can open doors to jobs and further qualifications.”
This is borne out by the figures for education districts covering Gauteng’s inner cities, townships, and informal settlements. Since the last election in 2009, pass rates have risen in
· Johannesburg Central (covering Soweto and Eldorado Park) from 65.4% to 84.7%
· Sedibeng West from 56.9% to 82.9%
· Sedibeng East, the best performing district in the country up from 78,4% to 90,%
· Gauteng East (covering many of the big Ekurhuleni townships, including Etwatwa, Daveyton, Tsakane, and KwaThema) from 65.8% to 87.5%
· Johannesburg South (covering Lenasia, Orange Farm, Finetown and Ennerdale) from 69.1% to 84.6%
· Tshwane West covering Winterveld, Mabopane and Garankuwe from 77.4% to 86.4%
“Particularly pleasing is the fact that all 15 education districts in Gauteng achieved a matric pass rate above 82% for the first time,” said MEC Creecy. “Significantly, we have made important strides in closing the gap between schools serving poor communities and those with a strong middle class component, as shown by the narrowing gap in the performance by fee paying and no fee schools.”
In 2009, no fee schools achieved an average pass rate of 60.1%, with fee paying schools at 84.2%, making for a gap of 24.1 percentage points. In 2013, the gap has been narrowed to 9.3 percentage points while both school types achieved better results, with no fee schools achieving a pass rate of 81.4% and fee paying schools 90.7%.
The detail of the 2013 results show that education’s upward trajectory of the last years in Gauteng continues and that the improvements remain sustainable even while the GDE responds to a growing learner population. In terms particularly of those subjects most closely followed by business and the professions, Gauteng is very pleased that, as the province at the heart of the South African economy, the 2013 results include
· a 5% improvement in the number of maths distinctions to 2 177
· an increase over 2012 from one to four learners from township schools achieving a 100% pass rate in maths and science
· a rise in the maths pass rate by 3.68% to 74% meaning not only that more learners passed maths, but that they did so at a higher level of competence
· a rise in the physical science pass rate by 8.57% to 76%
· a rise in the life science pass rate of 2%
· a rise in the economics pass rate by 7.9% to 82%
· an increase in the number of distinctions by 814 or 2.3% to 35 903
“There is a further aspect of the results which is perhaps even more pleasing because they show that the centre is not only holding in Gauteng, it is expanding,” said MEC Creecy. “These are the indicators which more than any others tell us that the efforts being made by teachers, school heads, and district and head office officials are paying dividends in the form of an ever growing number of children from working class and poor backgrounds, most of them African, who are getting a good education.”
For many in township priority schools, this positive difference has been achieved under the umbrella of the Gauteng Department of Education’s (GDE) Secondary School Improvement Programme, called SSIP for short.
The SSIP program targeted 60 000 grade 12 learners in 384 priority schools from the word go in January 2013. These were designated priority schools because for historic and other reasons, they have in the past not achieved the outcomes learners, parents, and the GDE expect.
“Our strategy in 2013 again focused on continuously improving teaching and learning in all targeted schools, including monitoring late coming and educator absence, assessment practices, accounting sessions with school management teams, setting of and compliance with targets, provision of learning and teaching resources, data management and record keeping, as well as leadership and governance,” said MEC Creecy. “It involves meetings with parents to encourage them to ensure their children make use of these additional possibilities, and a number of other interventions.”
The SSIP program also provides extra classes by expert teachers on Saturdays and during school holidays, as well as the final matric revision camps in October.
“The strong results by SSIP schools in 2013 show the system is improving teaching and learning inside the prioritised schools themselves,” said MEC Creecy.
No fewer than 365 of the 384 schools in the SSIP program during 2013 achieved a pass rate above 60%. Of the 365 schools, 137 achieved a pass rate above 80%, and 80 schools a pass rate above 90%.
Since 2009 the number of public schools participating in the SSIP program which achieved a pass rate below 60% has declined from 188 to just 19 in 2013.
“It is particularly pleasing that the SSIP program has not only once again proven its value, but that it has done so with improved results which show that more township children than ever are benefitting from the efforts all involved in SSIP have put into the program,” said MEC Creecy. “We as the GDE have been determined to do everything within our power not only to get these priority schools to the point where they can educate African children as they should, but more importantly, to ensure that these schools remain consistent as full members of the education system in Gauteng.”
The matric pass rate has risen in Gauteng between 2009 and 2013 from 71% to 87%. This represents a 22% improvement since the last election.
“More importantly, our improved results represent a promise made to the people of Gauteng at the last election and a promise kept that this government would do everything within its power not only to improve education, but to do so consistently and for all of the province’s children,” said MEC Creecy.
Thanking the thousands of parents from across the province who have served on school governing bodies or given their time to maintain schools or coach learners in sports and academic subjects, MEC Creecy also praised teachers’ and workers organisations for contributing significantly to charting a route which has consistently seen consensus building as the preferred alternative to conflict.
“Whether with parents or unions, we have together proven that ongoing consultation and consensus building does more for the learners who are our reason for existing than any battle or any court conflict can,” said MEC Creecy.
MEC Creecy said the GDE knew that many of those who had not achieved the results they had hoped for had given the matric exams their very best effort, and that there is no shame in what has transpired. Disappointed learners must know that they are not alone.
Before doing anything else, they should find out from their schools exactly what their results are, whether to think about writing a supplementary exam, taking all their exams again at the end of this year, or what other options may be open to them.
Pupils who are feeling down should go to their religious or community leaders, talk to their parents or someone else they trust, or phone Lifeline on 0861 322 322.
“We dedicate these results to the memory of our late President, Tata Nelson Mandela,” said MEC Creecy. “He was the greatest South African champion of education for all, and we remember that he taught us that opening education to all is central to our liberation as individuals and as a nation, when he said that there can be no contentment for any of us when there are children, … who do not receive an education that provides them with dignity and honour, and allows them to live their lives to the full.”