Eastern Cape joins 70% performance club

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has applauded the Eastern Cape for “joining the 70% performance club”. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has applauded the Eastern Cape for “joining the 70% performance club”. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Teacher unions and provincial leaders have commended the department of basic education and the class of 2018 results — noting the hard work and perseverance that was needed for their success.

The matric class of 2018 saw more public school pupils pass the year, with a 78.2% pass rate, up from 75.1% in 2017, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga announced on Thursday evening at Vodaworld in Midrand.

Best performing provinces

The best performing province was Gauteng at 87.9% followed by Free State at 87.5% and Western Cape at 81.5%.

Of the ten districts with the best matric results for 2018, eight were in Gauteng.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura said the province’s results reflect progress in the whole system of the province. He said the first indication of quality was the number of bachelor passes obtained by about 40 000 pupils out of approximately 80 000 that wrote the exams in the province.

He further added that the majority of the schools in Gauteng are performing above 80% and he said these improvements were coming from township schools which is an indication that interventions put in township schools such as the improvement of infrastructure and ICT (information and communication technologies) were bearing fruits.

Meanwhile, MEC of education in Free State, Tate Makgoe, said he believed that the province had dropped its ball in terms of the support it offered progressed pupils last year, and this led to it losing the number one spot it obtained last year.

Makgoe said this year the province will strengthen the support it gives to progressed pupils like it had been doing, adding that he was proud that a rural province was performing in the same league as more resourced provinces like Gauteng and Western Cape.

Limpopo had a matric pass rate of 69.4%, the lowest of all nine provinces in 2018. Eastern Cape showed great improvement from 2017 finally letting go of the stigma of being the least performing province which it had maintained for the past three years failing to obtain a 70% pass rate.
The province has improved from 65% from last year.

Motshekga applauded the Eastern Cape for “joining the 70% performance club”.

“I must particularly single out the Eastern Cape. Despite the challenges, they are faced with, especially the contestations related to the rationalisation of small and unviable schools, under the leadership of MEC Mandla Makupula (may his dear soul rest in peace). The Eastern Cape has now taken off and should continue on this trajectory. It is about to reach its cruising height. I wish to encourage the executive and administrative leadership of the Eastern Cape, to keep the fires burning, in memory of MEC Makupula’s unobliterable and unforgettable legacy,” she said.

Head of the department in the Eastern Cape, Themba Kojana, attributed the province’s success to going back to basics which is what he said the province did, such as appointing the right people for the job, rewarding schools that are doing well and making people accountable for their wrongs.

Of the approximately 800 800 pupils who sat for the exams,  172 000 (33.6%) are eligible to study for a university degree,141 700 (27.6%) to study for a diploma, and 86 800 (16.9%) achieved entry for study at a higher certificate level.

Overall, over 157 000 distinctions were attained.

READ MORE: Education shows improvements

There is still more that can be done, said Motshekga: “We must ensure that every year we are moving closer to our goal.”

Commending the schools and education departments that held extra lessons and classes over the weekends and holidays, the Governing Body Foundation’s (GBF) national chief executive Dr Anthea Cereseto said there was a need to improve learning in the lower school grades “so that the teachers of Grade 10 to 12 do not have to work so hard to overcome the accumulated learning deficits”.

“Hard work and consistent quality teaching over twelve or more years are what contributes to quality outcomes,” said Cereseto.

The Professional Educators’ Union (PEU) congratulated the department for the “marked improvement” of its question papers which was noted by the several assessment bodies.

Yet, since the class of 2018 enrolled for Grade 1 in 2007, 1 141 731 learners who have been lost in the education system, according to National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa).

The GBF said although the Matric 2018 class had been exemplary 40% of the 2018 matric class dropped out of the system during the 12 years of school.

The release of the matric results was not without some criticism. Advocacy group Equal Education in a statement on Thursday expressed its concern over the “narrow preoccupation” of the matric results, arguing “the results conceal the multitude of challenges learners face over their schooling career.”

READ MORE: Children must be able to read with comprehension about their heritage

Citing the results from Progress in International Reading Literacy Study that 74% of Grade four pupils cannot read for meaning in any language, Equal Education said the matric pass rate announcement is a “misleading fanfare”.

Despite its criticisms of the department’s annual announcement of the matric pass rate, Equal Education commended the dedication and perseverance of the pupils, their families and teachers.

READ MORE: IEB matric results: 98.9% pass rate

Following the announcement of the Independent Examination Board and public school matric results, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) reiterated a call for a single education system. “We cannot have two separate educations systems in a single country” it noted in a statement released on Thursday, “Education is a fundamental birthright which should be accessed by everyone despite their social standing.”

READ MORE: Single matric exam a step closer

Moving forward, Naptosa said more emphasis needs to be placed on South Africa producing quality artisans. “We need to encourage parents and learners to see the value in opting for Technical and Vocational pathways,” said Naptosa president Nkosiphedule Ntantala.

The National Teachers’ Union president, Allen Thompson,  said the increase in the pass rate showed that teachers are working hard even under unfavourable conditions such as overcrowding, shortage of teachers and teaching and learning materials.

He also congratulated the class of 2018 for the “historical” number of bachelor passes and said he believed that the introduction of free education at higher education institutions motivated pupils to work hard in order to study at universities.

General-secretary of Sadtu, Mugwena Maluleke, congratulated the Eastern Cape for its improvement that they achieved and thanked the LRC for its interventions that he said brought labour peace that had long ceased to exist.

“These are the efforts we are building to ensure that there is communication, there is working together and therefore we can see the results of a working together relationship,” he said.

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie works in the Mail & Guardian's online department. She majored in English Literature at a small liberal arts college in the USA. 
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