Focus on district performance pays off

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Schools in the Free State and Gauteng have good cause to celebrate this evening as nine of the 10 best performing districts can be found in these landlocked provinces.  

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday announced an overall national pass rate of 75.1% for the Class of 2017 -- a 2.6% improvement from the 72.5% achieved in 2016. This represents a total of 401 435 candidates who have passed from the 534 484 full-time and 117 223 part-time candidates who sat for the exams.

The Class of 2017 is the 10th group of learners to sit for the National Senior Certificate, and the fourth group to write CAPS-aligned NSC examinations. The Class of 2017 has recorded the third highest enrolment of Grade 12 learners in the history of the basic education system in South Africa.

The top 10 performing districts in the country, in descending order (with progressed learners included), are: 

1.       Fezile Dabi in the Free State with 90.2%;

2.       Thabo Mafutsanyana in the Free State with 90%;

3.       Tshwane South in Gauteng with 89.8%;

4.       Ekurhuleni North in Gauteng with 89.1%;

5.       Tshwane North in Gauteng with 88.9%;

6.       A tie between Gauteng West and Johannesburg West in Gauteng with 88.6%;

8.       Sedibeng East in Gauteng with 87.9%;

9.       Johannesburg East in Gauteng with 87.8%; and

10.     Overberg in the Western Cape with 87.7%

Minister Motshekga said the National Development Plan (NDP) recognises districts as a crucial interface of the basic education sector in identifying best practice, sharing information, and providing support to schools.  

“The continued growth in the performance of districts is closely monitored by both the provincial and national education departments,” said Minister Motshekga.

In 2017, the Eastern Cape rationalised the number of districts from 23 to 12, which has reduced the number of districts from 81 to 70 nationally. 

In 2017, 66 of the 70 districts (94% of districts) attained pass rates of 60% and above and 31 of the 70 districts (44.3%) attained pass rates of 80% and above. 

“Regrettably, four of the 70 districts (5.7%) achieved pass rates lower than 60%,” said Minister Motshekga. 

On the upside, for the first time, no district has performed below 50%.

Top performing districts within provinces

The top performing districts in their respective provinces, in ascending order, (with progressed learners included), are as follows: 

1.       Nelson Mandela Metro in the Eastern Cape with 72.6%;

2.       Vhembe in Limpopo with 76.6%;

3.       Ehlanzeni in Mpumalanga with 76.8%;

4.       Umgungundlovu in KwaZulu Natal with 81.5%;

5.       Ngaka M Molema in the North West with 82.5%;

6.       Namaqua in the Northern Cape with 83%;

7.       Overberg in the Western Cape with 87.7%;

8.       Tshwane South in Gauteng with 89.8%; and

9.       Fezile Dabi in the Free State with 90.2%. 

Performance of the provinces 

Minister Motshekga explained that the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) had agreed that the reporting on the NSC examination results should first exclude the performance of progressed learners (learners who had failed Grade 11 more than once), and second include their performance. 

This is how provinces performed, with progressed learners excluded: 

  • Eastern Cape attained 65.8%, an increase of 2.5% from 2016;
  • Limpopo attained 67.4%, a decline of 0.8% from 2016;
  • KwaZulu-Natal attained 73.6%, an increase of 4.1% from 2016;
  • Mpumalanga attained 76.6%, a decline of 4.7% from 2016;
  • Northern Cape attained 77.6%, a decline of 4.6% from 2016;
  • North West attained 82.1%, a decline of 4.1% from 2016;
  • Western Cape attained 84.4%, a decline of 3.3% from 2016;
  • Gauteng attained 86%, a decline of 1% from 2016; and
  • Free State attained 89.8%, a decline of 3.4% from 2016.

Progressed learners 

Minister Motshekga announced provincial results with progressed learners included.  Two provinces attained lower than 70%, namely Eastern Cape and Limpopo. 

Eastern Cape achieved 65%, an improvement of 5.7% from 2016. This is the second largest improvement in the country. Limpopo achieved 65.6%, up by 3.1% from 2016. 

Four provinces achieved above 70%, and these are: 

  • KwaZulu-Natal achieved 72.8%, improving by 6.4% from 2016 – the largest improvement in the country; 
  • Mpumalanga achieved 74.8%, a decline of 2.3% from 2016; 
  • Northern Cape achieved 75.6%, a decline of 3.1% from 2016;
  • North West achieved 79.4%, a decline of 3.1% from 2016; 

The following provinces achieved above 80%: 

  • Western Cape achieved 82.7%, a decline of 3.2% from 2016;
  • Gauteng achieved 85.1%, the same pass rate as in 2016.
  • The top performing province in 2017 is the Free State, which achieved 86%, down by 2.2% from 2016. 

Minister Motshekga said the 2017 NSC examination results with progressed learners “dispel the myth that progressed learners adversely affect the overall results”. 

“Certainly, this was not the case, particularly in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.  In fact, in KwaZulu-Natal, the results with progressed learners include, are better than those without the progressed learners.”

Rural provinces produce quality passes 

The Minister noted the upward trend in the performance of the three most rural provinces, namely, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.  

A total of 51.5% of the candidates who wrote the 2017 NSC examinations come from these three provinces. Of these, 68.7% of the candidates passed. 

“More remarkably, these three provinces combined produced 44.8% Bachelor passes, which translates to almost 45 Bachelor passes per 100 produced anywhere else in the country. 

“Three years ago, we had declared that we would continue to pay particular attention to the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo, so that we can improve the overall performance of our learners through the grades. 

“The improvement in these rural provinces is a clear indication that our pointed interventions, based on our National Strategy for learner attainment, have begun to bear good fruit.  What we dare not do, is to drop the ball. 

“We must continue with our pointed interventions, so that the levels of teaching and learning outcomes in these three rural provinces continue to rise,” said Minister Motshekga. –