SADTU statement on the 2018 National Senior Certificate results

3 January 2019

The South African Democratic Teachers` Union (SADTU), the largest union of education workers in South Africa welcomes the 2018 National Senior Certificate (matric) results and applauds the teachers as well as the learners for the hard work done to attain the 78,2% pass, which is a 3,1% improvement from 2017. 

Any recorded improvement in a system as overloaded as ours is worth applauding as it shows that our educators continue to produce results despite very tough working conditions.

Teachers in general and our members in particular sacrificed their precious time with their families teaching early morning classes, holiday classes and study camps. For instance, we know of the teachers and SADTU members in particular from the Vhembe District who were in class for seven days a week since the beginning of the 2018 academic year. These are some of the selfless sacrifices that educators and our members continue to make in support of the African working class child. 

Schools in rural and township areas that largely fall in the Quintile 1 and 3 categories continued to outperform their richer, more affluent counterparts in Quintiles 4 and 5. Not only did the rural and township schools receive more passes but they also had more bachelor passes as well. The 2018 Class recorded the highest number of bachelor passes in the country’s history.

The children of the poor and the working class are now afforded an opportunity to enroll at institutions of higher learning and this will change, for the better, the course of their lives, their families and communities.

 We attribute this feat to our members in particular who are the ones who teach in these schools. This once again dispels the lies peddled by the likes of the Democratic Alliance (DA) that SADTU members, in the main, are destroying education in this country through their supposed truancy and incompetence. Our members have achieved this improvement under trying circumstances teaching overcrowded classrooms with limited resources. The quality passes from schools of the poor and working class is a good sign that slowly, the country’s poverty alleviation programmes of accessing school nutrition and social grants are bearing fruit. It is pleasing to note that social grant recipients who enrolled for the NSC recorded a pass rate of 70.3%. This shows that resources have positive impact in the education system.

The children of the poor and the working class are now afforded an opportunity to enroll at institutions of higher learning and this will change, for the better, the course of their lives, their families and communities.

Progressed Learners

We have noted that there has been a steady increase of progressed learners over the past few years. A total of 20 122 progressed learners enrolled for the 2018 examination. They recorded a pass rate of 60,2%. The increase in progressed learners tells an important story about our education system.

Firstly, as a Union we lament the fact that there is evidently inadequate support provided to progressed learners and the teachers. A quick glance at the results shows that despite the quantitative increase in the number of progressed learners not enough was done to offer them institutional support particularly in the Western Cape. The Western Cape has the least number of progressed learners and yet has recorded the lowest pass rate for them.

Secondly, our observation is that the increase in the number is a subtle recognition by the Basic Department of Education of the inherent weaknesses of our high stakes test based education system.

Early Childhood Education

We remain convinced that the question of progressed learners in Grade 11 is a late intervention which could be resolved in advance by prioritizing and formalising the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sub-sector and deploying appropriate resources. The National Development Plan (NDP) commits the country to focus all our time and resources to early childhood development; the department should therefor do all in its power to realize this goal. It is through a formidable foundation that our children are guaranteed progress for their whole schooling years.

Investing in ECD will save us a lot of money for interventions such as the expensive winter classes, afternoon classes, and Saturday classes on the last year of schooling, being Grade 12. It will also minimize the unnecessary pressure on both the Grade 12 teachers and learners.

We reiterate our call for ECD, which is currently under the auspices of Social Development to be placed under the direct control of the Department of Basic Education. This will surely improve the quality of the curriculum in this phase and teachers and conditions of service of ECD teachers.

Inclusive Education

Our education system needs serious transformation when it comes to inclusive education. Currently the one-size-fits-all mentality traps the learners living with disabilities. We can no longer afford pay lip service when it comes to inclusivity in education. LSEN institutions have become so dilapidated and hazardous.

Safety in such schools, just like in mainstream schools, is a major concern.

 The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 with target 4., being one of the areas given the violence in our society, needs attention. This target consists of what should constitute education. It states that by 2030, we should ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and the appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

As a Union, we will be participating in and monitoring of SDG 4; this we say because Agenda 2030 demands that this be an inclusive process. We therefore want to make it clear to the DBE that it should not privatize the process and report to the AU and UNESCO without the participation of Unions.

In conclusion

Celebrating this increased pass rate is a bitter sweet moment for teachers who have given their all to achieve these results but have been let down by the employer who has failed to honour the 2018/2021 wage agreement in full.

When the employer failed to pay the 0,3% shortfall for pay progression at the end of July as promised in the wage agreement, we took the matter up and were promised payment by December 2018 respectively from the 1st of July. December came and the money was not paid. After a series of follow-ups, we have been informed that the payment is awaiting the Finance Minister’s signature.

Mboweni has bemoaned the public service wage bill blaming it for the country’s fiscal crisis. In his maiden medium-term budget policy statement in October, he announced that Treasury would not be footing the bill for the wage agreement; he said national and provincial departments would have to absorb these costs within their baselines.

We won’t allow those who occupy positions of power to insult our members and other public servants by undermining the collective bargaining processes that we fought hard for in order to ensure labour peace. We are prepared to mount a legal challenge to force Mboweni to pay what is due to us. The DBE and DHET, as sole players in the remuneration of the teaching profession and education personnel are responsible for this arrogance by the National Treasury.

They should therefore carry the blame for disrespecting the Collective agreement that was supposed to be implemented in July already. Their lack of respect for the teaching profession cannot be condoned and will be fought with everything at the disposal of SADTU. The feeble excuses why the 0,3% could not be paid must be rejected with the contempt it deserves

To the learners who didn`t make it, this is not the end of the road. We urge them to write supplementary examinations and other programmes from the department to ensure that they complete their matric.

We also advise learners that the University option is not the only one available. We encourage them to pursue other streams like the Technical, Vocational Education and Training (TVET) routes.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat


General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 0827832968

Deputy Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi; 0827095651

Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi; 082719515