Media Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Education
There are only 101 days to go before the start of the 2012 National Senior Certificate (NSC).
This year, 45 719 full-time candidates have registered for the 2012 NSC. There are 4 507 more full-time candidates than last year.
In order to assist our learners in preparation for the NSC, the WCED has initiated a number of targeted and sustained interventions at schools across the province, including a "winter school" for Grade 12 learners.
This holiday, winter school programmes were held at 98 high schools across the province. Each of these schools offered specialised tutoring in subjects such as Mathematics, Physical Science, Geography, Life Sciences, Accounting and Economics.
Learners were taught by expert tutors who have a proven record of success at the schools at which they teach. This was to ensure that these learners received the best possible tuition from recognised experts in their fields.
The majority of winter school programmes took place in the first week of the school holidays. Other schools, such as Mfuleni Secondary, opted to conduct their programme during the third and final week of the school holidays.
I am happy with the roll-out of the Grade 12 winter school programme so far and am delighted that reports from the districts indicate high attendance rates at their programmes. This morning there was a 100% attendance at Mfuleni Secondary.
The winter school programme is just one of many interventions by the WCED to help support and assist our Grade 12 learners this year.
We have specifically tried to assist our underperforming schools in the province. Here, we have implemented an intensive High School Intervention Project (HSIP) to reduce the number of underperforming schools and subjects in the province.
The WCED budgeted R15 million this year for HSIP, which is focusing on 30 schools that achieved pass rates of less than 60% in the 2011 matric exams.
Intensive intervention programmes proved successful last year. The province managed to reduce the number of underperforming high schools from 78 in 2010 to 30 in 2011.
This was a dramatic decline and we are cautiously optimistic that we will see further progress in 2012.
At the start of the 2012 school year, the WCED approached each of the underperforming schools and conducted an analysis of their exam results. The department looked carefully at the results of every subject and the results within subjects. They looked at every learner, class, teacher and school to identify what needed to be done to improve these results further.
The WCED then worked with each school to develop and implement strategies to help our learners and teachers improve their results. These strategies differed from school to school, based on their needs and subject requirements.
Key elements of the HSIP programme include the following:
- Tutoring learners over weekends and holidays; tutoring is conducted by experienced teachers who have a record of high learner achievement.
- A Telematics project that broadcasts lessons via satellite in selected subjects to 144 schools after school and over weekends.
- Ensuring that all Grade 12 learners have textbooks in at least six subjects.
- Personal mentoring of learners at risk by teachers.
- Providing learners with safe homework and study spaces.
- Providing all Grade 12 learners with a study guideline called "Tips for Success" that provides advice on how and what to study for each subject, the structure of exam papers and how to manage study time.
- We have provided learners with previous examination papers, which can also be obtained on the WCED's website. The papers help learners to know what to expect in the NSC, while also practising how to complete papers on time. In August, 64 000 copies of sample exam papers and model answers will be distributed through a leading Sunday newspaper.
- Regular school visits by officials for curriculum support and monitoring.
- Meetings with learners and parents.
- Motivational talks by our Circuit Team Managers.
- Follow up sessions with learners with irregular school attendance.
Underperforming schools are required to submit quarterly reports on attendance and the number of activities completed. Districts capture data on a District Management Information System (DMIS) to track progress and to provide support needed at underperforming schools.
All districts are encouraging parents to support learners in their studies. Specialised education staff are providing counselling to learners as required.
The department is taking action to ensure that schools are well managed, especially underperforming schools.
This includes mentoring principals and replacing them where necessary. The department will train new school governing bodies on how to identify the best candidates for vacant posts for principals.
There are signs that the system is improving, thanks to a much more focused approach by all concerned.
In conclusion, I would like to appeal to all our Grade 12 learners to use the remaining time they have left wisely and to carefully plan their study timetables for the rest of their school year, if they have not already done so by now.
Grade 12 learners can consult their "Tips for Success" booklets for information on how to prepare study timetables, and they can visit our website, which now includes a link to matric support materials and information, including information on support programmes, links to old exam papers and how to order recorded lessons on DVD from the WCED Telematics programme.
We encourage all our candidates for the 2012 NSC examinations to stay focused and to put in the hard work required to prepare for the upcoming examinations.
Through the combined efforts of all learners, teachers and parents, as well as support from the department, I am confident that we can improve learner performance in the NSC examinations.