SADTU would lie to congratulate the 2013 Matric class, teachers, parents and families of the learning for the good results. We also appreciate the work that has been put in by the various provinces to achieve the 78,2% overall pass rate – the best ever in the 19 years of our new democracy. The many hours spend by the candidates and their families to make it though, not only in the final school year but in the entire schooling life since the first grade, has been well spent.

The results can be attributed to dedication, tenacity and hard work that were trademarks of our fallen world icon Tata Nelson Mandela. We hope these learners will use these principles throughout their lives
Critically, we want to take this opportunity to praise the teachers who have attended to these learners – from the foundation phases to the final year and, in most cases, against very unfavorable conditions. They are the real heroes and heroines that we want to express our sincerest gratitude towards as they have managed to play their part in ensuring that the doors of learning remain open to the African working class child.

It must be noted that teachers often bear the brunt of all sorts of criticism related to our education outcomes without any due consideration of the realities on the ground by the prophets of doom. We will play our part as the union and continue to mobilize our members behind the noble ideal of building real people’s power through delivering quality public education – an ideal propagated and championed by Tata Mandela.

Whilst the matric results are used as a yardstick to measure progress in our education, the critical building blocks are put in place during the earlier years of one’s schooling life.

We appreciate the attention given to the matric class but we appeal for all the classes to be given the same attention as they are all intertwined, with particular emphasis on Early Childhood Development (ECD).

A special mention must also go the matric exam markers, who did exceptionally well and put up long hours to reach the set deadlines.

Brief analysis of the Matric results

Access and quality

We are happy with the fact that the gap between the quality of Quintiles 4 and 5 schools (former Model C ) matric results and Quintiles 1,2 and 3 (no-fee schools) is narrowing. The no-fee schools obtained a 78 407 Bachelor passes which translated to 78% while Quintiles 5 and 4 had  81 406 Bachelor passes which is 81% . The gap was only 3%. The narrowing of the gap indicates education in poor communities is the same as in higher quintile school. It also shows that the pro-poor policy implemented by the government is beginning to deliver the desired fruits. Essentially, the doors of learning have been opened for more learners and the heavy burden of school fees, transport and meals has been taken off the shoulders of the poor.

We appreciate the increase of the numbers of those who passed Mathematics with more than 40% and above. 97 790 learners passed compared to 2012’s 80 716 learners.  In Physical Science – those who passed in the region of 40% and above were 76 677 – an increase from 2012’s 70 076 learners. We are very encouraged and appreciate the fact that very few districts in the entire country obtained less that 60% pass rate. This is a notable and continuing improvement from just two years ago when no less than 15 districts failed to reach that mark.

In our view, this is a clear indication that the administrative efficiency at a district level is steadily improving despite challenges at higher levels. We must refuse to rest on our laurels, we still expect district officials to play their role and provide the necessary support to school principals and their teams.

Notable Results from Provinces

We congratulate the Free State province under the leadership of MEC Tate Pule Makgoe for doing exceptionally well in achieving an 87, 4% pass taking the top spot. This is a largely rural province and that alone adds an extra dimension to the challenges.

We attribute this to the leadership of MEC Makgoe who has demonstrated decisive leadership in terms of unlocking some of the challenges inherent within the system. The MEC is accessible to stakeholders, believes in collectivism, is prepared to take responsibility and has a solutions-based approach to challenges. It is our hope that other political and indeed administrative leaders can display the same attitude.

We also commend the other rural province – The North West for coming second and representing the highest improvement.  The province achieved 87,2% up from 2012’s 79,5%  - a  7, 7% improvement.

We also commend Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy for her leadership and continuous improvement in the province’s results.

We acknowledge the improvement of the results in the Eastern Cape from 61, 5% in 2012 to 64, 9% in 2011. In order to keep and improve on this momentum, it would be crucial to relook at the issue of temporary teachers in this province. Thousands of temporary teachers do not have their contracts renewed at the beginning of every year and that causes instability in education in the Eastern Cape.  

We also acknowledge the remarkable improvement of results in other provinces.

Challenges

As stated earlier, the real heroes and heroines in the improvement are the teachers. Conditions on the ground remain unfavorable, particularly at an infrastructure level. Some learners still exit the schooling system having seen a test tube only in a textbook. The language barrier which greatly disadvantages non-English speaking learners remains a sore point. This has led to our persistent call for the prioritization of indigenous languages in schools and the development of teachers that will equally be proficient to teach them.

Teacher development is yet to be consolidated and this is inevitably had a negative impact on teachers’ pedagogical efficiency and subject knowledge.

We want to acknowledge however, as we approach 20 years of democracy that despite all these challenges, the ANC government has done exceptionally well to increase access to education for all. The first two post apartheid universities in the Northern and Mpumalanga provinces will be opening their doors this very year. Another significant milestone achieved is that we have done well as a country to improve access to education for the girl child and this is one of the Millennium Goals that we can tick off our list. This has been achieved through among others, the increase of no-fee schools.

Functional illiteracy, as indicated by the recently released Goldman Sachs report on 20 years of democracy in South Africa, has declined due to the progressive policies advanced targeting adult education.

Way forward

  • Private Sector Investment

We want to once again make a passionate call to corporate South Africa to take a keen interest in basic education. The private sector has a moral obligation to support public schools and be part of the solution if we are to move forward at the required speed as a country. The same enthusiasm that is applied to providing support for private schools must be equally applied to support public ones. Through such partnerships, not only can we accelerate much needed school infrastructure development but they can be an ideal platform for School Management Team mentoring programmes.

  • FETC & Higher Education Sector

We call for the revitalization of the FECT sector as a preferred stream of development of our learners as well. Ideally, this is a stream that must be encouraged from the early states of our learners’ secondary education so that our human development path can respond adequately to our socio-economic development needs.

Higher education cannot be for the privileged few; it is in actual fact a public good. We suggest that the concept of merit need to be reconcepuatalised to embrace equity and access, which necessitates a policy of affirmative action to ensure that good students from poor backgrounds have equal opportunity.

Parental & Community involvement in Education.

Research from best case studies in the world demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt that parental involvement in education is one of the key elements to improve learner outcomes. We therefore want to call for the increased involvement of parents in our learners’ education. On the very same note, we also want to call for continuous training and development of School Governing Bodies. This in our view will ensure that schools get the necessary support required in terms of governance.

We call upon the learners who didn’t do not to give up but to look opportunities where they can improve their marks. They can explore the option of doing matric on a part time basis. Many have tried this route and succeeded.

ISSUED BY: SADTU SECRETARIAT