Solid gold performance from Gauteng despite the challenges

Johannesburg – For many of the 152 000 pupils who sat for the National Senior Certificate, the final year of schooling was characterised by the anxiety of having to write matric in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and the added stress and uncertainty it brought.

The added s tress for the C lass o f 2020 included prolonged school closures; shortened holidays; after-hours and weekend classes; and limited educational and extra-curricular opportunities for some pupils.

However, the myriad challenges that faced this dedicated group of pupils did little to deter them from achieving amazing results.

To say that I am proud of them would be an understatement.

The Class of 2020 achieved a pass rate 83.8% – a 3.5% decline compared to the 2019 achievement of 87.2%. This was no easy feat and the Class of 2020, the first to sit for exams under the disruptions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, deserve all the kudos and congratulations they are receiving.

Despite a difficult environment arising from a rapidly growing system and tough economic conditions, the Gauteng department of education registered significant achievements in the delivery of quality basic education through its programmes and interventions in the 2020 academic year.

Faced with severe budget pressures, we have, once more, delivered on our core mandate. Gauteng is still the leading performing province by virtue of the size of the provincial system.

We are the second-largest provincial education system with 110 184 matriculants that wrote the National Senior Certificate examinations compared to 97 717 matriculants in 2019.

What is more important than the 83.8% pass rate for 2020 are the detailed indicators showing the increasing quality of teaching and learning in the province.

It is the details of the 2020 results, which show that the positive trends of the last seven years continue. Gauteng achieved another ƒrst with regards to bachelor passes.

At 45.09%, Gauteng achieved the highest percentage of bachelor (matric exemptions) passes since 1994.

We achieved the highest number of candidates qualifying for bachelor studies in the country with 49 679 pupils.

This is up from the 43 494 bachelors passes in 2019. Over 30 675 pupils passed with a diploma pass.

We are encouraged by the fact that more pupils who passed the exams in 2020 (72.9%) passed with a bachelor or diploma pass qualifying them to go into higher education.

Several Gauteng township schools have also performed well, with four schools achieving a 100% pass rate and a bachelor rate of above 60%.

Those schools include Diepsloot Secondary No 2 (76,9% bachelor passes); Rusoord Secondary School (73.9% bachelor passes); Marlboro Gardens Secondary School (69.2% bachelor passes) and Denver Secondary School (66.1% bachelor passes).

I want to congratulate these schools for a job well done. It must be noted that just over 91.7% of Gauteng schools performed above the nationally declned benchmark for school under-performance of 65%.

We have also made significant strides in closing the gap between schools serving poor communities, specifically township schools, and those with a strong middle-class component, as shown by the narrowing gap in the performance of these schools.

In 2009, township schools achieved an average pass rate of 60.1%, with non-township schools achieving 84.2%, making for a gap of 24.1 percentage points.

In 2020, the gap has been increased to 11.8% compared to 2.78% in 2019 and 4.6% in 2018.

The success of township schools can largely be attributed to the efforts of the secondary school improvement programme (SSIP).

These were designated priority schools because, for historical and other reasons, they have not achieved the outcomes pupils, parents, and the department expected.

The SSIPprovides extra classes by expert teachers on Saturdays and during school holidays, and final matric revision camps in October. Last year, the SSIP targeted over 65 734 grade 12 pupils in over 436 priority schools from January.

More than 78.7% of SSIP pupils passed compared to 78.5% in 2019. A total of 79 SSIP schools achieved above 90% pass rate. Four SSIP schools achieved 100%.

So, it is particularly pleasing to note that the SSIP has again proven its full value of improving results and showing that more township children than ever before are benefitting from the efforts of all involved in the SSIP.

I am also proud that all of Gauteng’s15 districts performed above the national average of 76.2%.

The top five districts in Gauteng featured as the national top five districts, with six Gauteng districts in the top 10.

The Tshwane South district achieved a 89.6% pass rate as the top performing district.

The province also achieved a total of 41 459 distinctions, compared to 37 422 in 2019 and 36 113 in 2018, across all subjects.

We have contributed 23.4% of all distinctions nationally.

The maths passes at 65.4% this year remain commendable. While there was a decrease from 2019, this performance is still above the national target of 60% pass rate for mathematics.

The successful achievers in mathematics deserve our congratulations because the 2020 exam year was very tough.

The pass rate for physical science is 72.6%, a slight increase from 2019. Gauteng’s performance in the life sciences was 76.5%.

The continued performance remains above the national target of 60% for science subjects. More girls (10 973 more) wrote the matric exam than boys.

A total of 87.7% boys passed compared to 86.9% of girls.

Girls who achieved a bachelor pass totalled 45.5% compared to 41.2% of boys.

The pass rate for boys is higher than that of girls when it comes to maths and science.

We will review our interventions in 2021 to deal with these disparities.

We are conscious of the fact that the remarkable performance that we saw from our matriculants could not have happened without parents, guardians, teachers and principals, and for that we remain eternally grateful. Once again, congratulations to the Class of 2020!

• Lesufi is Gauteng education MEC.

Panyaza Lesufi.

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