SADTU applauds teachers for the improved 2016 matric results

5 January 2017

The South African Democratic Teachers` Union (SADTU) applauds teachers in general and our members in particular for the hard work done towards the improved 2016 National Senior Certificate results which saw more learners from schools in township and rural areas(Quintiles 1,2 and 3) passing.

The overall matric pass of 72,5% is a 1,8% improvement from 2015. However, it is our wish to see every Grade 12 learner pass.

A total of 78 886 learners from Quintiles 1,2 and 3 received Bachelor passes while 72 952 learners in Quintiles 4 and 5 obtained Bachelor passes.

This is a change from the past when Quintiles 4 and 5 used to account for the bulk of Bachelor passes. The Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal Provinces had the highest Bachelor passes while the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape provinces improved on theirs.

This has dispelled the lies peddled by the likes of the 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 cir-cumstances teaching overcrowded classrooms with limited re-sources. The quality passes from schools of the poor and working class are a good sign that slowly, our poverty alleviation program of school nutrition is bearing fruit. 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 the course of their lives, their families and communities.

It is disheartening to note that the cohort that began Grade 1, 12 years ago, did not all write the examination as some drop out of the system due to various reasons. However, we take note of the fact that the number of learners who wrote in 2016 (610 178) has increased from previous years.

We believe that more can and should be done to ensure higher retention rates. The learners that could not make it to the examination rooms are not mere statistics but human beings who have the potential to contribute positively to our economic development.

Progressed Learners

We have noted that there has been a steady increase of pro-gressed learners over the past few years. In 2013 there were 30 00, in 2015 the number rose to 65 671 and in 2016 we had 108 742 which is 13,4% of the total cohort of the class of 2016. 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 very little was done to offer them institutional support particularly in the lower ranking provinces such as Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

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.

Over the past few years SADTU has been vociferously calling for a more formative assessment that is assessment for learning and less common assessment tasks. We believe what is required is assessment for learning and not just for the sake of end of year statistics. We need valid and reliable evidence regarding the performance of learners and the system; we must be able identify areas that need improvement and then put in place responsive and effective interventions. This we believe can be achieved through a more formative, continuous methodology to assessments.

The complete reduction of the whole learning process to a test result has been one of the major fault lines of our education system and we will continue to call for a complete paradigm shift in this regard.

The euphoria on matric should stop, let us focus on the whole education system Starting from the Foundation Phase.

Early Childhood Development

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 ECD sub sector and deploying appropriate resources. The 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, 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.

Indigenous Languages

The results indicate that whilst there might have been percentage improvements in subjects like Mathematics, Physical Science and Accounting, to our disappointment the smaller African indigenous languages like xiTsonga, siSwati, xiVenda and isiNdebele recorded significant declines.

This is an indication that there is no coherent strategy in place to promote African indigenous languages in support of nation building. The lack of funding by the Treasury is a serious matter that must be confronted with urgency. Our own languages and their development are still relegated to the periphery. Whilst other countries have drastically increased the profiles of their own indigenous languages and invested in developing them into academic languages, we are failing dismally to do the same.

Our failure to invest in the development of indigenous languages will inevitably perpetuate the current apartheid system like trend where those whose mother tongue and home language is not English and Afrikaans continue to be disadvantaged. Consequently, this will deepen inequalities and widen the gap between the rich and the poor. We strongly believe that one of the reasons for the decline of re-sults in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces is due to the poor performance in indigenous language. The call for the strengthening of indigenous languages is more than urgent.


We congratulate Quality Assurer uMalusi for the sterling work done despite the noise from the DA through their dishonest so-called shadow minister of basic education. The standardization of results is a common practice right through the world. We have our full confidence in Umalusi`s expertise capabilities to ensure that the standard is in line with previous years. The noise by the DA is simply to discredit Umalusi and push for its agenda to have this entity privatized. We view this project as a political motive to destroy the credibility of the Council. Education is a public good. We will therefore fight tooth and nail to protect education from these vultures that seek to have it privatized.

District performance

We welcome the improvement in the performance of districts. Only five districts performed below 50%. We note the steady increase of districts that have performed above 60% and more than 80%.

In conclusion

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: 082 783 2968
Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651
Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157