Minister Schäfer Acknowledges Province's Top Achievers
Note to editors: Below is an extract from Minister Debbie Schäfer’s speech to be delivered today at the 2014 NSC Awards
Today is a day of celebration.
I am honoured and proud to be here to acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding success of schools and individual learners from throughout the province in the 2014 National Senior Certificate examinations. This is also extra special for me because this is my first NSC awards since assuming this position.
When I first met the Premier in 2002, she was then the Education MEC. She was someone I admired from afar, and I was so excited when she agreed to pose with me for a photo for my manifesto when I stood as a ward councillor.
Never did I imagine then that 13 years later I would get to admire her from much closer, and for me to share this event with her holds a very special significance for me. Thank you Premier for letting me invite all these people to your home.
Shortly after becoming Provincial Minister of Education I began visiting schools across the province, and the first technical school I visited was Oval North High School.
In my discussions with the principal, Mr Kassiem, I realised that technical high schools had been neglected in many ways, and yet they play such an important role in providing skills for our economy. I decided that I wanted to acknowledge these schools, and so for the first time this year we have included an additional category for our technical schools, where awards will be made to schools that have achieved an average pass rate of 80%, with 40% of the candidates having passed maths. We have also included awards for the best performance in technical subjects including Engineering Graphics and Design, Civil Technology, Electrical Technology and Mechanical Technology. The total dedication of Mr Kassiem showed me the importance of acknowledging excellence in our technical schools, and I am very pleased that he has joined us here today.
I am very proud of the learners and schools here today, and all who have achieved outstanding results in the 2014 NSC. I am especially proud that the Western Cape is the only province in the country, where all eight education districts have achieved a pass rate of over 80%. This is an outstanding achievement.
I would like to congratulate the West Coast District, led by Mr Jannie Beukes, for achieving the highest pass rate in the province with 88.4% this year, which is the fourth highest pass rate in the country.
They were closely followed by the Overberg District, led by Mr Bertram Loriston. The Overberg District achieved the fifth highest pass rate in the country. Baie baie geluk!
A special mention, however, must be made of the Metropole East District, led by Mr Melvyn Caroline.
Historically, this district has always achieved the lowest percentage of all the eight districts. However, this year, it is placed in fourth place, together with Metro South led by Mr Glen Van Harte, at 81.2%, increasing by 15.1 percentage points since 2009!
It is significant to add that almost half of the schools in Metro East are situated in Khayelitsha – a historically disadvantaged area. Mr Van Harte also has many schools in Mitchells Plain in Metro South.
The WCED has, over the past few years, invested heavily in areas such as Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, and we are therefore encouraged by improvements in these schools. I am delighted to hear that four schools from Mitchells Plain will be receiving an award here today as well as a school from Khayelitsha.
This is a remarkable achievement for the schools as well as the Districts.
A special mention must be made of Spine Road HS in Mitchells Plain which, since the inception of the NSC in 2008, has for the first time achieved a 100% pass rate.
They were so close last year with 99.5% – so I am therefore delighted that they reached their goal this year. Congratulations. (clap)
Congratulations must also go to Rhenish Girls High School, which is the only government school in the province that has achieved 100% pass rate and 100% bachelors passes. Very well done. (clap)
I would also like to specially mention schools that are plagued by gangsterism and violence, and yet have improved their results significantly.
One of these schools is Scottsdene Secondary School in Kraaifontein which I visited last week. Kraaifontein is an area plagued by gangsterism and violence and learners learn under the most difficult circumstances. The reason I chose this school was specifically for what they have achieved over the last few years, and not just in 2014.
This school was classified as an underperforming school in 2011, with a pass rate of only 46.2%. Through various interventions, their pass rate then increased year on year. In 2012, they achieved 52.9%, in 2013, 68.1% and then 90% in 2014 – doubling their percentage pass rate in four years!
Similarly, we have here today two schools from Delft – an area that is also plagued by social problems.
All this goes to show that, no matter one’s circumstances, with determination and a lot of hard work, success is possible.
The most noteworthy thing for me was that, despite the fact that these schools are in areas plagued by very difficult circumstances, they have managed to turn things around. The reason for the turnaround has been a sustained and concerted effort by all role-players – the parents, the learners themselves, the teachers, principals and district officials.
I have heard of many of the extra lengths that our staff at various levels have put in to assist our learners. And whilst I do not doubt for a second that it must have been tiring and difficult, the smiles on the faces of the principal, assistant principal, teachers and district officials when the learners at Scottsdene Secondary shrieked with delight on receiving their marks was something I will not forget in a long time, and which showed me that they really felt that all the effort was worthwhile.
To the candidates here today, I would like to congratulate you for the hard work that you have put into your studies throughout your school years. Learners’ attitude and application are required to improve learning outcomes both in the classroom and outside the school. To achieve such outstanding results takes dedication and commitment throughout your entire school career. I am sure many of you will attest to this. Your hard work has now paid off, and I sincerely hope that you realise just how proud this government, this department and the people of the Western Cape Province are of your achievements.
I wish you the very best as you embark on a new chapter of your life. My only advice to you is that there are no secrets to success. There is only one place where success comes before work, and that is in the dictionary. Work hard, learn from your mistakes, never lose your integrity, and never give up. Also, be careful how you measure success – work out what is important to you, and do not compromise on it. And most importantly, be modest.
And please use your considerable talents to better the future of our country.
No outstanding results come without hard work, and I would like to thank all the teachers, principals, district officials and their support teams for their hard work and commitment to education in the Western Cape.
Thanks must also go to the educator unions, governing body associations, universities and various education organisations for the role that they have played in supporting the efforts of the WCED in 2014.
I would also like to thank the WCED's examinations team for their hard work in ensuring that these exams have run smoothly, and delivered a credible result.
Thank you also to all those who have helped organise today’s event.
And lastly but by no means least, I would like to specially mention, with gratitude and appreciation, a number of sponsors who have generously donated the prizes for today. Lenovo, Mustek, Sangari, MTN, Gaffleys Transport and Appletiser.
One way or another, we will all benefit from your generosity today.
And now it gives me great pleasure to introduce someone who needs no introduction, but I will do it anyway. One of the many good things about our premier is that just about every time someone has to introduce her, she has added yet another achievement to her CV.
And she has not disappointed this time – it has just been announced within the last week that Helen Zille has been shortlisted, after having been nominated by overseas news channel CNN, together with 4 other high profile women around the world, as being one of 2014’s most inspirational women. And here she is ready to inspire us.
So with no further ado, I call upon Premier Helen Zille.