Gauteng joins hands today with two of our neighbouring provinces in celebrating our best matric results ever since the birth of our democracy, the opening of education to all, and the creation of our province twenty years ago.
We congratulate our colleagues in the Free State and North West on the sterling job they have done. And we join them in celebrating the fact that together, our three provinces have 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.
We dedicate these excellent results to the memory of our late President, Tata Madiba, the greatest South African champion of education for all. In doing so, 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.”
Gauteng has again this year achieved the province’s best results ever since we introduced universal access to education under President Nelson Mandela. And yes, we do have many reasons to celebrate with our learners and educators.
That is because even more important perhaps than our 87% pass rate for 2013 are the detailed indicators showing the increasing quality of the teaching and learning in our schools in the province.
But before we look at the results in greater detail, allow me to say a few words to those of our learners who may not have achieved their goals this time around.
We know that many of you gave it your very best effort, and to you we say you are not alone. There are many options for you going forward.
Find out from your school exactly what your results are, and ask whether you should write a supplementary exam, take all your exams again, or what other options you have.
If you are feeling down, go to your religious or community leaders, or talk to someone you trust. If things look very dark, please phone Lifeline on 0861 322 322. They can help you.
The 2013 figures tell us not only that the numbers of Gauteng learners passing matric are at an all time high, they also underline that
• we have achieved 17.42% more bachelor passes than a year ago, which means that 38 104 Gauteng learners have earned the right to apply for further education, up by 5 655 on a year ago
• at the same time, we have 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
What these figures are telling us is that we have not only managed to keep pace as the numbers of learners have grown with the expanding numbers of residents in Gauteng. They are telling us that we have, with the support of the provincial and national governments, continued to improve learning and teaching in the province, to the benefit of all of our people.
Allow me in this context to say a few words of thanks to President Jacob Zuma, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, and Premier Nomvula Mokonyane. From the beginning of his term, President Zuma has made education a top priority, and he and his cabinet, along with my colleagues in the Gauteng Executive Council, have been consistently supportive as we have worked to improve education in the province.
It is not just the overall numbers that give us the confidence to say that the systems we have created in education, the effort put into further study and training by countless individual teachers and school heads, and the money we as the ANC provincial government in Gauteng with the support of the national minister of finance have spent on improving schools infrastructure are working, and working well.
It is the details of the 2013 results which show that the upward trajectory of the last five years continues. And that the improvements remain sustainable even while we respond to a growing learner population.
We have particularly emphasised the continual improvement of access to the quality education which can open doors to jobs and further qualifications for children from poor and working class communities across the province, most of whom as you know are African.
This is borne out by the figures for the 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%
• in Sedibeng West from 56.9% to 82.9%
• in Gauteng East (covering many of the big Ekurhuleni townships, including Etwatwa, Daveyton, Tsakane, and KwaThema) from 65.8% to 87.5%
• in Johannesburg South (covering Lenasia, Orange Farm, Finetown and Ennerdale) from 69.1% to 84.6%
• and in Tshwane West (covering the MAWIGA area) 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 in 2013. We are also happy that the country’s best performing district which achieved a 90,7% pass rate, is Sedibeng East! We have also made significant 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%.
In terms particularly of those subjects most closely followed by business and the professions, we are very pleased to be able to note that as the province at the heart of the South African economy, we have this year seen
• a 5% improvement in the number of maths distinctions to 2 177
• an increase over last year 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%
• and a rise in the life science pass rate of 2%
• a rise in the life science pass rate of 2%
• a rise in the economics pass rate by 7.9% to 82%
• and as the cherry on top, we are very pleased that Gauteng learners have achieved 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 than these important indicators of ongoing, increasingly consistent and therefore sustainable improvement.
It is the set of indicators which says that the centre is not only holding in Gauteng, it is expanding. These are the indicators which more than any others tell us that the efforts being made by teachers, school heads, district and head office officials across the province are paying dividends. They do so 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.
Let me therefore take this opportunity before I go into the details to thank everyone involved in ensuring that Gauteng has again sustained its position at the forefront of education in South Africa.
I am grateful firstly to Premier Mokonyane for joining us today as we congratulate everyone who has played a role in achieving these excellent results for Gauteng, for our learners, and for all within the GDE.
Thanks to the examination team under the stewardship of Len Davids and Prince Masilo. Once again, we have had a clean, successful examination process in Gauteng.
I would like to thank my head of department, Boy Ngobeni.
If ever anyone has any doubt about the skills, dedication, determination, and discipline to be found at senior levels of the public service, they need only spend a day with him as he leads 80 000 staff members within the GDE. His is an inspiring example to all who work with him, we are very grateful to have you, Boy.
Gauteng would not be celebrating these results today were it not for the massive team effort of all in head office, and in the education department across the province.
We could not have done it, and we cannot do it without our educators and principals.
Thousands of you have again in the past year shown your dedication to your profession and to our children, attending courses, participating in our in-service development offerings, upgrading your management skills, and – most importantly – putting our learners at the centre of your efforts every day.
Thanks to all of you, from my office and in the schools and district offices.
Let me also mention the many parents from across the province without whose contribution we would struggle to achieve the successes we celebrate together with you.
We are grateful to all of you who give freely and voluntarily of your time, your skills, and your dedication. You serve on school governing bodies, help with repairs and renovations of school buildings, support coaching, or many of the other activities that make up school life.
Your efforts, your contribution to the outcomes we are able to celebrate today prove that our children and our country are best served by constructive engagement from all sides. Positive parental involvement is a key ingredient of any good education system anywhere in the world, and we thank you.
Which leads me to my thanks to all of the leaders of our teachers’ organisations and workers’ unions operating within the education sector.
I would like at the same time to thank members of the provincial legislature for their continued support.
Together, we have consulted and conferred, charting a route which has consistently seen consensus building as the better alternative to conflict. We have together proven that ongoing consultation does more for the learners who are our reason for existing than any battle or any court conflict can.
Our teachers and your organisations have in 2013 again helped through your constructive approach to make a very important difference to the lives of many, many young people. Thank you.
Allow me then in closing to say a few words about the difference that the people within the GDE have made to the lives of many, many young people in Gauteng in the past year.
For many, this positive difference has been achieved under the umbrella of our Secondary School Improvement Programme, called SSIP for short.
This year, our 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, 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.
It involves meetings with parents to encourage them to ensure their children make use of these additional possibilities. As part of the SSIP program in 2013, we again held monthly meetings in schools to assess progress on curriculum coverage, school based assessment completion, and analysis of learner performance.
The SSIP also programme provides extra classes by expert teachers on Saturdays and during school holidays, as well as the final matric revision camps in October.
In short, we were again determined to ensure that these under performing schools were given the leadership, support and every possible opportunity to allow them to serve their communities as they should.
So it is particularly pleasing to be able to tell you today 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.
The sustained improvement in results over the last four years show the SSIP system is improving teaching and learning inside the prioritised schools themselves.
No fewer than 365 of the 384 schools in the SSIP program during 2013 have achieved a pass rate above 60%. Of the 365 schools above 60%, 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 with a pass rate below 60% has declined from 188 to just 19 in 2013.
It goes without saying that most of the schools within the SSIP program bear the burden of the Bantu Education legacy. 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.
Allow me in this context to say just a few words about the performance of schools in a couple of the areas facing particular challenges during 2013.
There was a time last year when anyone visiting the GDE would have found a number of senior officials scratching their heads as to whether it was going to be possible to hold matric exams in Bekkersdal at all.
In the end, we were not only able to ensure that schooling continued, even under sometimes difficult circumstances, but that matric was not only written, but went very well. This took planning, effort, and dedication by all those responsible within the GDE, and my special thanks go to them today for ensuring not only that the exams could take place, but that our learners participated well prepared.
So it is with happiness that I am able to tell you how the schools in Bekkersdal fared:
• Simunye Secondary School raised their game significantly, with 72.2% passing as compared with just 55% in 2012
• TM Letlhake Secondary lifted their results from 74.8% in 2012 to 84.4% in 2013
• Hoerskool Westonaria’s pass rate improved from 97.7% to 98.6%, and
• Kgothalang Secondary achieved 78.7%, down from 87.2% but nevertheless above 75% in trying circumstances
Along with your co-learners elsewhere in the province we congratulate all of you in Bekkersdal: you have worked hard and done us proud!
A rise in the Gauteng matric pass rate between 2009 and 2013 from 71% to 87% not only represents a 22% improvement over the life of the current legislature.
It represents more importantly 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.
And so as we enter the year in which we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our hard won democracy, we can say with confidence that government of the people by the people is truly also for and in the interests of the people.
We can join hands as learners, parents, educators, administrators and policy makers and celebrate a victory for our children and our country in the spirit of our beloved President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who taught us that education is the foundation on which we must build a just and prosperous South Africa.
On this very good day for Gauteng, I want therefore to send to all of our learners my heartfelt congratulations. You are the builders of our future, we are very proud of you!