Today is special day on the calendar of KwaZulu-Natal as we all join proud parents and educators in celebrating the Class of 2022 who have flown this province’s flag very high.
Their success is a shining demonstration of the commitment of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education to our vision of being an innovative hub for quality teaching and learning that produces learners developed to exploit opportunities for lifelong success.
What makes today’s gathering even more special is that it defines the socio-economic future of our country.
As guided by the Constitution of our beloved country and the ANC’s 1992 Ready To Govern Policy Document, we share the belief that “quality education is the minimum necessary to prepare individuals to participate in the economy and society.
That is why our ANC-led government consistently invest in initiatives that seek to make quality education accessible to all.
We are also fully cognisant of the fact that as a developing nation, education is the only resource and fount from which we can achieve the aspirations that the forebears of our political freedom envisioned.
THE YEAR THAT 2022 WAS
Ladies and gentlemen, while we were fortunate that the Class of 2022 was spared from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, the academic year still had its fair share of challenges.
The destruction left in the trail of the floods that shook our province is still felt even today in some quarters.
Our school infrastructure was severely destroyed by ravaging storms, but most important and quite sadly, some of our learners and our educators also lost their lives.
While dealing with flood damage in our schools is fast becoming a moving target for the Department due to unpredictable weather pattens resulting from the impact of climate change, we’ve committed ourselves to always ensure that no learner is left behind when it comes to their academic work.
Our interventions include supplying damaged schools with mobile classrooms while rehabilitations were ongoing and finding alternative schools for some of the learners who had to relocate after their homes were damaged by the storms.
We also kept track of all our learners living in shelters and ensured that they were supported accordingly.
Ladies and gentlemen, in 2022 we also experienced horrific accidents that also saw our learners and educators losing their lives.
No one can forget the Phongolo accident that saw close to 20 learners and one of our educators being gruesomely killed.
Last year we also witnessed a disturbing trend of violence and disruption of several schools around the province.
Honourable guests, while we must respect everyone's constitutional right to take a stand and protest against social ills and other injustices, we must jealously guard our children's right to education.
That's why I'm once again appealing to all of you today and the people of KwaZulu-Natal to protect our learners' right to learn from selfish individuals who think they have a right to disrupt and vandalise schools during service delivery protests.
We are also calling on our community leaders and law enforcement agencies to urgently intervene when these incidents surface and ensure that the instigators are brought to book.
Ladies and gentlemen, for the Department to fulfil its mandate of providing accessible quality education, the environment must be conducive and safe for teaching and learning to happen.
That is why we are deeply concerned about the criminal elements that are bringing weapons into our schools and attacking our learners and teachers.
Some of these violent attacks costs us the lives of great educators such as Bongani Sibiya, who was the principal of Msunduzi Secondary School.
We also lost learners such as Mandlenkosi High School’s matric candidate, Thabani Vilakazi, who was stabbed to death. May all our educators and learners who passed away last year rest in peace.
Much as we had a fair share of challenges in 2022, we also had victories, especially on co-curricular matters.
Our girls from Edendale Technical High School brought home the glory by winning the CAF African Schools Championship that was held in Malawi.
We also saw our learners excelling on both the provincial and national Moot Court competitions.
Our educators were also not to be left behind, as they also excelled on both Provincial and National Teaching Awards.
Honourable Premier, last year’s signing of the MOU with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture will see a focused approach to the reintroduction of sports, arts and cultural programmes to schools in the province this year.
The aim is to see all our learners being exposed to more co-curricular activities so that they can showcase their talents.
We also firmly believe that harnessing the power of sporting and creative arts activities may be one of our most valuable tools we can use to fight the scourge of socials ills such as substance abuse and crime. Sports and creative arts activities promote social cohesion and nation building.
In 2022 we also accelerated our drive to make our schools ICT innovative hubs.
The rollout of coding and robotics to several schools was yet another step to get KwaZulu-Natal closer to its vision of being most digitally enabled provinces in the country.
The aim is to have more of our schools offering these subjects in 2023, but for this to happen we also rely on the partnerships with other stakeholders, including mobile networks companies, who have the resources to help us reach even more learners.
Madam Premier, the National Development Plan 2030 sets specific targets that we must have met by 2030 towards realising quality education.
To this end as the Department has prioritised the establishment of Focus Schools that specialise in gateway subjects like Mathematics, Science and Technology.
In this regard, two schools have already been established and are in operation namely, the Mandla Mthethwa School of Excellence at Ndumo, under uMkhanyakude District, as well as the Anton Lembede Mathematics, Science & Technology Academy, at La Mercy, under the Pinetown District.
I have also recently approved the purchasing of a school previously owned by an independent body named Curio.
This will be opened as a third Focus School in KwaZulu-Natal under Amajuba District. The aim is to have at least one Focus School per district.
This initiative is part of our response to the vision encapsulated in the NDP vision 2030, which enjoined us to ensure that by 2030 South Africans have access to education and training of the highest quality that would lead to significantly proved learning outcomes.
TRANSFORMATION OF THE EDUCATION SECTOR
While we are pleased with the number of girls who are staying in school up until matric level, it would be remis of me not to speak about the ongoing challenge of girls who are getting trapped in abusive relationships with older men who lure them with money.
This scourge needs all stakeholders, including communities and traditional leaders, to take a collective responsibility in protecting our girl child.
Honourable Premier, I must say that we also want to see more women occupying senior positions in our Department.
If we preach transformation and gender equity to our learners in the classroom, they must also see us practice it in the corridors of our offices and boardrooms of the Department.
Our learners must also see qualifying women occupying seats in school management teams.
HOW DID WE MAKE A SUCCESS OUT OF 2022?
Ladies and gentlemen, the results that we are presenting to you today here, as announced by the Minister Motshekga yesterday, are the outcome of the hard work and commitment of both our educators and our office-based officials.
We started the year by developing a Provincial Academic Improvement Plan which was also tailormade by all our 12 districts to suit their academic needs.
Among the aims of our Plan was to improve the provincial pass percentage from 76.8% to a maximum of 100% and a minimum of 80%. This was as per the directive of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government which said no district should perform below 80%. That became our pathfinder and we took those marching orders very seriously.
We must emphasise the point that our target was and is always 100% performance. This is important to mention because as a Department we want all our learners to succussed.
Other objectives of our Academic Improvement Plan included ensuring that we increase the number of schools that attain 100% pass rate, improve bachelor passes in Mathematics, Science and other Technical Subjects.
We also wanted to ensure that we improve the quality and quantity of passes in Home Languages and to increase the percentage of distinctions in each of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) subjects.
To ensure that we improve our education outcomes, as a Department we also had accountability sessions for all schools which obtained 40% pass rate and below in the 2021 NSC examinations. The aim of these sessions was to eradicate the 40% below category of performance in the 2022 National Senior Certificate exams.
Eleven districts appeared before the provincial accountability committee which was led by both the political and the administrate heads of the Department.
To ensure that our learners have a fighting chance in life and are well prepared for the exams, we also had winter and spring tuition programs which sought to facilitate effective curriculum coverage for both educators and learners with the aim of ensuring that all schools complete tuition by the end of August 2022.
Our winter and spring camps also sought to provide opportunity for learners to revise their work as well as familiarise themselves with all the levels of questions in line with the standards of the National Senior Certificate exams. We also wanted to deal with the challenges of under-performance in subjects as identified in the 2021 diagnostic report and during the first quarter assessment.
We had a hybrid model, which included study camps where learners were provided with overnight accommodation, cluster walk in centres with learners from different schools attending in one centre.
Many of our learners benefited from our intervention programmes and the result that we are announcing today are as a result of the work done by the collective of this big department.
No matter how good our plans were, strategies and our interventions, none of what the system put in place would have succeeded without our educators implementing it. We always say that a classroom is the centrepiece of all our activities as a Department.
All that is done in the Department, from the office of the executive authority, top management to all the officials in the Department, is done with the sole aim of ensuring accessible quality teaching and learning.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF RESULTS
Honourable guests, after recording a 76.8% pass rate in 2021, today we are thrilled to report that KwaZulu-Natal has re-joined the league of sister provinces that are in the 80% bracket. The class of 2022 has done us very proud by achieving a historic 83% pass rate.
This means that out of the 164 308 of our learners who wrote the 2022 NSC Exams, 136 388 of them passed. Our province continues to contribute the highest number of candidates who sit for and pass the National Senior Certificate examinations in the country.
The number of our schools that obtained 100% pass rate also increased significantly from 145 in 2021 to 212 in 2022. We were also able to reduce the number of schools that performed below 75% from 713 in 2021 to 435 in 2022.
Ladies and gentlemen, as the Department we are also proud to report that no school in this province obtained a 0% pass rate. Our interventions to eradicate the 40% and below category of performance in the 2022 National Senior Certificate exams are also yielding results and we will continue to put more efforts towards addressing this bracket.
PERFORMANCE PER DISTRICT
KwaZulu-Natal is not only the most improved province in the country, but we are also home to the most improved district nationally, which is Umkhanyakude. Eleven of our 12 districts heeded the directive to perform at 80% and above.
The overall pass percentage per district is as follows:
-Ugu retained its top spot for the third consecutive year with a 87.2% pass rate in 2022
-Umkhanyakude recorded an 11% increase from 75.3% in 2021 to 86.3% last year
-Amajuba got 85.5%
-Umgungundlovu also recorded an increase 76.5% in 2021 to 84.1% in 2022
-Ilembe got 83.9%
-Zululand got 83.7%
-Umlazi District obtained 82.8%
-Harry Gwala District followed closely with 82.5%
-King Cetshwayo got 81.7%
-Pinetown got 80.5%
-UThukela District obtained 80%
-Lastly, we had Umzinyathi District with 79.8%
Congratulations to all of them.
Ladies and gentlemen, Umzinyathi might have not been able to attain 80%, but they are fast catching up with sister districts and we are confident that they will make up the difference with the Class of 2023. They are also among the most improved districts in the province after having moved from 71.7% in 2021 to 79.8% in 2022.
QUALITY OF THE RESULTS
The quality of our results is indicative of the sterling work of our district teams and educators as well as the dedication of our learners to their academic work. Our bachelor passes have increased from 61 856 in 2021 to 69 849 in 2022.
There’s also been an increase in the number of diploma passes from 42 128 in 2021 to 43 908 in 2022. The number of higher certificates decreased from 23 945 in 2021 to 22 560 in 2022.
I must clarify that our aim as the Department is to see more of our candidates to get bachelor passes because we want them to be in a better position to further their studies post matric level.
While we recorded increases in a number of gateway subjects, as the Department we want to see an improvement in the English First Additional Language, Mathematics and all science subjects.
Our learners also performed exceptionally well in languages resulting in KZN recording a 100% in IsiXhosa First Additional Language, 99.6% in IsiXhosa Home Language, 99.8% in IsiZulu Home Language, 98.4% Afrikaans Home Language and 97.9% in SiSwati Home Language.
Our learners who wrote the South African Sign Language also led to an achievement of an 89.4% pass rate.
PERFORMANCE OF SPECIAL SCHOOLS
Ladies and gentlemen, five of our 11 special schools obtained a 100% pass rate. Three of them are in the Pinetown District and they are Kwathintwa, VN Naik as well as Fulton.
We also had Mason Lincoln in the Umlazi District, St Martin De Porres in Ugu obtaining 100%.
The 2023 academic year might have just started but we are already steadfastly working hard with the aim to raise educational standards, boost learner achievement, and strengthen the entire educational system.
Our targets this year includes improving the quality of our passes and increasing the number of schools that obtain a 100% pass rate.
We wills also implement district-focused interventions to improve the pass rate in each district with the aim of getting Umzinyathi above 80%.
Special gatherings like today's are a reminder of why we always say it takes a village to raise a child. The success of the Class of 2022 would not have been possible if all the stakeholders did not go an extra mile in ensuring that our learners were adequately supported to prosper in their exams.
Siyabonga kakhulu kuwo wonke umuntu obebambisene nathi ukuvikela isithunzi sezivivinyo zika 2022.
Our gratitude goes to His Majesty for championing education in all His youth initiatives and continuing to put great effort in motivating our learners to work hard in order to achieve academic and lifelong success.
I also wish to thank our Honourable Premier. Mrs Dube-Ncube, and her entire Executive, for the support and guidance they give me and this Department.
To my predecessor, Honourable Mshengu, siyabonga kakhulu for your hard work in steering the ship as the MEC for Education until August last year.
Additionally, I would like to express my gratitude to the Speaker of the Legislature, Honourable Boyce and all the Members of the Legislature for the critical oversight role they play through initiatives such as the school functionality programme.
Honourable Sonjica and the entire Portfolio Committee on Education, we appreciate invaluable guidance and contributions as well as helping us strengthen our education system.
KZN Director-General, Dr Mkhize, thank you for everything you do and please know that we always appreciate and value your support.
I would also like to thank the Head of the Department of Education, Mr Nkosinathi Ngcobo, the top management and all our officials in the Department for working tirelessly to achieve the results that we are presenting today.
Allow me to also extend our gratitude to the district administration, the examination and assessment team, and the principals who worked hard to ensure a flawless 2022 NSC Examination and strengthening school-based evaluation.
Thank you to all the circuit managers, district directors and subject advisors who helped make 2022 a year which we can all be incredibly proud of.
Let me further thank the parents and guardians who entrusted us with the great responsibility of educating their children. We know that some of them spent their last cent, to ensure that their children get an opportunity for a better future.
We are also aware that there are still families, who through these learners we are celebrating today, are going to witness the first generation who are going to proceed to universities.
Impela ukuba besingabambisene bazali nogogo nomkhulu ngabe asikho lapho esikhona namhlanje. Sibonga ukusethemba ngekusasa lezingane nabazukulu benu.
Siyethemba ukuthi namhlanje niyaziqhenya ngemiphumela yabantwana benu. Siyanxusa nabazali balabo abangatholanga imiphumela abebeyifisa ukuba bangadikibali ngoba lisekhona elinye ithuba lokuthi baphinde babhale izifundo zabo.
Sibonga kakhulu nakumabandla ezenkolo alokhu eqhubekile njalo ngokusilekelela ngokukhulekela zonke izinselelo esibhekana nazo ezikoleni zethu.
Siphinde sibonge nezinduna namakhosi asendlunkulu ngokubambisana nathi kulomshikashika wokufundisa izingane zethu nokuvikela izikole.
Whenever I think about our educators, I’m reminded of the words of Arne Duncan who once said: “Wherever you find something extraordinary, you’ll find the fingerprints of a great teacher.”
That is because every time you pick up a piece chalk you mould the nation’s hopes and dreams into reality.
Today we celebrate the fruits of your hard labour, but very few will understand the hard work you put in from the moment you first plant the seed of knowledge in our learners.
You are indeed the backbone of our huge education system, and we salute you for your patriotism.
I would be doing an injustice if I did not thank organised labour and school governing body formations who are our partners in education.
Their consistent meaningful contribution to our efforts to bring about quality education to our learners are among the main reasons we are celebrating the success of the Class of 2022. Asiqhubeke ngokusebenzisana nokubambisana ukuthuthukisa izinga lemfundo kulesifundazwe.
Allow me to also thank the ruling party, the African National Congress, which deployed me here and for the trust that our great movement put in us.
Our appreciation also goes to our social partners – the business community; sponsors, as well as media houses who highlighted education matters on their print and electronic platforms. Thank you for your support and I hope you will continue to work with us even in 2023.
Lastly, I also want to thank my family for their never-ending support and their understanding when it comes to my responsibilities as the servant of the ANC-led government in this great province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Ladies and gentlemen, the results that we announced here today and our pass percentage, means that there are those learners who did not make it.
The Department does have the programmes to give our learners a second chance and their schools will be able to provide them with the necessary assistance.
We urge them not to despair and to know that not getting the results they wanted last year does not mean it is the end of the world.
Even the most successful people in our society did fail at something at some point of their lives but they never gave up. They got up and tried again and again until they succeeded.
As former President Nelson Mandela once put it; “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
We once again wish to congratulate the Class of 2022 for setting the bar very high for this year’s cohort. As they exit the schooling system, I wish to say to them – there is no limit to what you can achieve if you put your mind to it and work hard to achieve it.
Education is your passport to the future so go out there and make your dreams a reality.
Distinguished guests, before I sit down, please allow me to invite the Honourable Premier of our province, Mrs Dube-Ncube, to address this gathering.