The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union welcomes the 2022 National Senior Certificate results as released by the Department of Basic Education. The teachers and support personnel in the sector and schools must be commended for the recorded improvement under the most trying of conditions for the class ’22 that was severely affected by the COVID pandemic since their Gr 10 class.
It remains our firm view however that the Gr 12 results should not and cannot be used as the sole or even main yardstick to assess the performance of our education system. We are against the league tables among provinces, and we want to see education relief funds instead of austerity measures. We have been calling for a review of the current school resourcing formula, we contend that in its current form, it disadvantages rural provinces, and we want to see a more equitable one.
The learning journey consists of a total of 12 years during which each has its own challenges that learners and teachers need to deal with. For instance, there is overwhelming consensus that the Early Childhood Development phase plays a pivotal role in the performance of a learner in subsequent grades from a cognitive development point of view.
It is worth noting that the improvement that has been recorded for the class of 2022 from 76,4% to 80,1% is an indication that the system is gaining the required resilience to deal with the challenges of the day. The results are a sign that the country’s public education system remains good in the face of the narrative that private education is better than public education. The class of ‘22 was the most affected by the COVID pandemic and later load-shedding and community protests. Both learners and their teachers had to dig deeper than any generation since the dawn of our democracy to go through the academic year.
The pandemic sharply exposed the chronic and deep-seated inequalities that continue to define our education system. Since the advent of the pandemic and the associated lockdown restrictions in March 2020 when this group was in Gr 10, a consequential number of our learners in quintiles 1-3 schools could not have the same access to learning and teaching as compared to their counterparts in higher quintiles and private schools.
Most regrettably, the unfolding second pandemic in our country in the form of an unreliable energy supply further laid bare the inequalities in our system and perhaps the country in its entirety.
While others in the more affluent communities were able to continue with learning and teaching when there were power cuts accompanied by limited natural light into the classroom, a majority of those that we teach particularly the technical subjects like CAT were not able to in many rural and township schools.
Performance of the 2022 Class
Quality of the passes:
The 2022 Class recorded 38,4% Bachelor passes; this translates to 278 814 learners who qualify for admission at universities. What excites us the most is that the bulk of the Bachelor passes, 64,4% are from no-fee paying schools in Quintiles 1 to 3. In 2005, Quintile 1 to 3 schools accounted for only 20% of bachelor passes. Such progress must be commended as these are the schools with the least resources, overcrowded and were adversely affected by the pandemic as they could not afford online learning.
We are equally content with the standardisation processes. Sixty-six subjects were presented for standardization by the DBE to Umalusi and the raw marks of 47 subjects were accepted; three subjects, including isiZulu were adjusted downwards and sixteen subjects were adjusted upward.
As a developmental state, South Africa requires entrepreneurial as well as technical skills. It is sad to note the continued decline in enrolment in Accounting, Business Studies, and Economics. However, we take heart in the increase of uptake of technical subjects. We would like to see in the future more than 50% of learners taking up technical subjects and the department putting more resources in these subjects. We urge the department to continue to pursue the three-stream model which aims to provide learners with technical and vocational pathways. It is a well-known fact that not all learners are gifted academically.
Mathematics Paper 2 Question 5:1:
SADTU notes the performance of the 2022 Matric in Mathematics. We believe this mark is not a true reflection of the performance of this Class. Question 5.1 caused a lot of anxiety to the learners leading to many not fully engaging with the other questions as they spent more time trying to solve the question. It is worth emphasising that the mental state of a learner and the teacher are an important contributor to the educational outcomes.
It is also for this reason that as a Union, we insist that the lead department in our sector the DBE, should work with other government departments to improve on its psychosocial support services functions to both learners and teachers. This should not be a peripheral but rather central issue proportional to the budget as well.
The decision of quality assurance body uMalusi not to have the question marked and instead implemented a full computer upward adjustment did very little to help the learners as it favoured learners at the top. We believe the learners at the bottom were the ones who needed the adjustment the most.
SADTU has always emphasised the importance of promoting indigenous languages. The excellent performance in isiZulu is further vindication of our long-held belief that proficiency in one’s mother tongue has a direct impact on the learner performance as it enables one to have a better grasp of concept.
We believe that the improved position by KwaZulu/Natal province to third position in the results is linked to the good performance in Isizulu. We however note the decline in the numbers that wrote the paper. We express our disappointment in the decline in Tshivenda and Xitsonga passes.
We call on the department to strengthen the teaching of indigenous languages. We reiterate our call for our Indigenous languages to be developed to be languages of instruction as we believe this can take the country into higher heights. The most successful and fastest developing countries use their indigenous languages to do business.
Further, we welcome the more than 100 percent in the uptake of Sign Language
We commend the continued increase in the number of girl learners who are writing the National Senior Certificate examinations. More than 50% of those who wrote the examination were girls. This bodes well with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 5 which aims to achieve gender equality and empower women and girls by 2030.
Even though the boy learners performed better than girls, we call for more efforts to be undertaken to arrest the declining number of boys from the system. We are comfortable with the fact that more learners are completing their Matric at the age of eighteen.
State of education:
As we rejoice in the continued positive trajectory of the Matric pass rate, we believe that more should be done to ensure equality and quality within the system. This approach should be anchored by increased government investment into education infrastructure and the sector in its entirety. Business should also increase their investment in education and government should consider imposing Wealth Tax to assist in improving the quality of education more especially for the poor.
Enormous class sizes above the recommended maximum 1:35 teacher/learner ratio in secondary and 1:40 teacher/learner ratio in primary schools are a habitual feature in our system. There are still schools with pit latrines in some rural areas, non-existent administration blocks, multi-grade classes, lack of safety and security infrastructure, under-resourced to non-existent libraries and laboratories and the list is endless.
The teachers and support personnel of the class of ‘22 had to go an extra mile with morning, late afternoon, weekend, and school holiday classes to support the learners. We commend all the education workers for their extra-ordinary effort to ensure that this generation of young South Africans can complete their learning journey in basic education.
These education workers are the shapers of the nation, given the grossly unfavourable socio-economic conditions of a non-negligible number of our learners in non-fee schools and child headed or broken households, they continue to provide inspiration through their Herculean efforts to remove the obstacles of learning for every child at their disposal.
We encourage the learners that did not achieve the results they were hoping for to not lose hope. The Gr 12 results are not the beginning nor the ending of their lives. These learners should be supported including by their parents and guardians to participate in the DBE’s “Second Chance” programme among other interventions. We also want to call on the class of ’22 to also consider TVET colleges and not just universities as a viable option for further education and training.
It is worth noting that a non-negligible number of schools were vandalised during the school holidays in some areas. The acts vandalism as reported by some provinces delayed the start of schools for the 2023 academic year. Community protests have also been identified as another risk factor in our education particularly as we move towards the next National General Elections.
We express our deepest appreciation to the parents for the role they played in supporting their children right through their schooling careers and final examinations. Education is a societal issue; it cannot prosper without the involvement of parents and communities.
We are calling upon all our communities to rally behind SADTU’s “I AM A SCHOOL FAN” campaign; protect our schools from criminal elements that live among us and not to utilise them as bargaining chips to communicate service delivery deficiencies.
We praise all the members of SADTU and education workers in general for delivering improved matric results under the unprecedented circumstances. As a Union of Education Workers, we call on government to honour teachers by proclaiming a national day for teachers.
As SADTU, we have resolved to observe a National Teachers’ Day in May of every year in honour of all those education workers that paid the highest price during the height of the COVID members. Activities to mark the day starting in 2023 will be communicated to all our members and stakeholders.
Finally, we congratulate the Free State Province for having built a sustainable education system based on holistic support to the entire education system instead of focusing on the Grade 12. We have always advocated for investment in the entire education system in order to allow our teachers and learners to also enjoy weekends and holidays.
ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat
General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude: 071 355 1566
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157