The National Senior Certificate results still reflect the economic disparities

unnamedNational Senior Certificate Results

The National Senior Certificate results still reflect the economic disparities

SADTU welcomes the 2015 National Senior Certificate results albeit cautiously. We congratulate both the learners and the teachers. Although the results show a 5,1 % decline from 2014, we welcome the improvement in terms of the numbers and quality passes from learners in Quintiles 1 to 3 who are mainly township and rural schools and are generally perceived as poor performers.

We are heartened to see the steady increase, since 2014, in the number of learners from these Quintiles who have obtained bachelor passes and in majority we can state, without any fear of contradiction, SADTU members teach them.

Taking this further, we want to illuminate the socio-economic factors that have a clear impact on educational outcomes. These we want to highlight whilst bearing in mind that Quintile 1 to 3 schools, which are the poorest, have been yielding improving results combined for the past 3 years as compared to Quintiles 4 and 5 schools. This clearly indicates that despite chronic challenges related to matters such as education infrastructure shortages and counter-productive post provisioning practices, our teachers and learners in rural and township schools continue to defy the odds.

In 2014, 16 486 learners from Quintile 1 obtained bachelors, in 2015, the number increased to 23 407. In Quintile 2, 26 098 learners obtained bachelors, an increase by 7 412 from 2014. In Quintile 3, 30 533 learners obtained bachelors compared to the 20 533 in 2014.

We commend the teachers from these schools who, with very little support, managed to increase the number of quality passes. Teachers in these quintiles work under trying conditions as they teach overcrowded classrooms with education infrastructure shortages and poor facilities. These are the schools that rely on morning, afternoon and even weekend classes to produce results and we need to make it clear that as much as we commend them, as a country we must resist the temptation to make the abnormal the norm. 

We also welcome the increase in the number of progressed learners who managed to pass.  Out of the 58 656 who wrote, 22 060 passed. Even though these progressed learners are too small a group, this pass needs to be commended because, under normal circumstances, they would not have written the exams due to poor performance in either Grade 10 or 11. However, they managed to out-perform themselves.  Again, we thank the teachers for their sterling work.

The Class of 2015 is the second cohort to write the National Senior Certificate that is aligned to the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and has been written over the last eight years.

We therefore note with disappointment, the poor performance in almost all the subjects, except for Life Orientation.  We continue to note the continued poor performance in crucial gateway subjects such as Mathematics and Science. A total of 129 472 obtained between 30 and 40% in Mathematics. This figure increased from 2014 when 120 523 learners obtained between 30 and 40%.

We note a slight increase in Physical Science. A total of 69 663 learners obtained more than 40% in the subject compared to 2014 when only 62 032 learners obtained more than 40%.

SADTU further notes with disappointment, that these results, after 21 years into democracy, reflect the country’s economic disparities.

The South African reality is that the results still reflect the structural imbalances of our economy with the access to resources having a significant impact on the outcomes. The lowest ranking provinces are the Eastern Cape, KZN and Limpopo. These provinces are largely rural and still rank amongst the poorest in the country particularly the EC and Limpopo. What this trend signifies is what we have always maintained that socio-economic factors play a key role in determining outcomes.

Poor provinces continue to perform dismally. Poverty levels have an impact on the performance of learners. In the Eastern Cape 15 districts performed below 60% while five districts in KZN performed below 60% and two districts performed below 60% in Limpopo provinces.

African Languages

A notable fact coming from the matric results is that we still have a long way to go as a country in terms of the development and indeed promotion of our own indigenous African languages. The results indicate that language still plays a major role in determining the outcomes of the learners. It is a well-established educational fact that those who have the advantage of a mother tongue medium of instruction tend to do much better than their counterparts who are otherwise disadvantaged.

It is therefore outrageous that Umalusi, instead of understanding that the language compensation is informed by this country’s history, that these African learners do not have a choice. Umalusi chooses to side with the untransformed universities to bar our learners from accessing higher education by withdrawing language compensation.

It is becoming clearer every year that we need to prioritise the development of African indigenous languages into languages of teaching and learning instead of reducing them to the periphery behind English and Afrikaans. We want to see the professional development of teachers that will be competent enough in African indigenous languages to ensure that they become elevated to medium of instruction status. In our view, as long as we have an education system that does not support the languages and the culture of the majority we will not be able to build a nation and we will continue to encounter South Africans who refer to others as “monkeys”. It is again due to such circumstances that as a union we will continue to call for the compulsory teaching of relevant South African history in our schools, this is the only way in which our system can yield responsible, patriotic South Africans ready to serve the country.

As long as we have a department that budgets a paltry R20 Million for teacher development then the promotion of African indigenous languages to give equal access to education to all learners will remain a pipe dream.

We therefore call on the department to prioritise the training of teachers in indigenous languages. It is illogical for instance to train teachers in English and yet expect them to teach indigenous languages in schools. This shows that we will never be emancipated from mental slavery and languages and even cultures of European descent will always be seen as superior to ours.

This objective will not be reached until there is political will from the echelons of power that must be mirrored with adequate teacher development initiatives.

We cannot ignore the failures of a standardized approach to teaching, learning and assessment linked to socio-economic factors.  There are some subjects that rely on contemporary knowledge available on mass media platforms like television and the Internet; learners who do not have access to such become disadvantaged. This calls for greater systemic support to both teachers and learners from rural and lower quintile schools if we are to reverse a situation that clearly mirrors our past as a country.


We call for more training of teachers, improvement of conditions of service – education infrastructure, more teachers in the system amongst others.

We want to make an emphatic call to the DBE to breathe life into the Polokwane and Mangaung resolutions of the ANC, the ruling party in terms of the development of African indigenous languages in our schools, radical curriculum transformation and the improvement of the conditions of service of teachers.

We again condemn the incidents of racism that are once more rearing their ugly heads in our country; these are symptomatic of a deeper racial divide and they have no place in our country. This is the same attitude with which we want to reiterate our call for the rejection of some of the suggestions and recommendations from the Volmink Report on the selling of posts. Volmink’s report regrettably suggests that because the majority of black parents from poorer areas are uneducated they thus have no right to participate in the education of their children. This, in our view, is an apartheid mentality. The Volmink report goes further to suggest that the right of teachers to associate, as affirmed by our constitution, must be undermined.

We believe that education is a mind-liberating tool and has a major role in building the nation and therefore, the Department should strive to ensure that education does just that.

We want to take this opportunity as well to call on institutions of higher learning and in particular NSFAS to ensure that learners from poorer backgrounds do indeed get access without man-made obstacles such as the lack of registration fees etc. As SADTU we support the call by student and youth formations of the mass democratic movement for a complete ban of registration fees particularly for those from working class and poor backgrounds.

As we celebrate the class of 2015, we would like to emphasise the fact that schooling does not start and end with matric. Too much emphasis on the matric class is at the expense of the entire basic education system, in particular, the foundation phase. A firm foundation guarantees a smooth progression of learners that will automatically lead to good matric results.

Issued by SADTU Secretariat