On Wednesday, the Western Cape Government and the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) will be acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of learners and schools that have excelled academically in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.
Recipients of these awards are identified through a set list of criteria compiled by the WCED. In the last two years we have expanded the original criteria for the NSC awards, releasing additional categories to incentivize our schools and learners to produce even better results.
We have also ensured that the criteria used are in line with the overall strategic objectives and vision of this province and the priorities we have set, namely, improving the number of learners that write and pass their NSC, the quality of passes achieved, such as the number of candidates who qualify for degree and diploma study, as well as consistency in performance by schools.
Improvements in the number of Mathematics passes is a major focus area of ours as it is key to the development and progress of the Western Cape. It also forms the basis of further study fields in science, technology, engineering and business - all key sectors for a growing economy such as ours.
Therefore, mathematics passes will continue to be a key indicator when determining the awards for our top schools.
The WCED's top 20 excellent schools are determined by the following three indicators: pass rate (10% weighting); bachelor pass rate (60% weighting) and mathematics passes in relation to the total number writing (30% weighting).
These extraordinarily successful schools are required to maintain their learner numbers over three years. The categories of schools celebrated by the WCED are both those that show significant improvement and those whose results are excellent based on the indicators of quality described above.
In recent times, the WCED has been challenged as to why we do not use the pass rates of schools on their own as a main criterion when determining the awards for the top schools. The table below will show you why the percentage pass rate should not be the only indicator of success.
School A on the Top 20 list does not have a 100% pass rate but achieved an 86% maths pass rate and a Bachelor pass rate of 78%. School B does not achieve a 100% pass rate, but achieved 100% pass rate in mathematics.
School C on the surface looks good, with a pass rate of 97%, but a bachelor pass rate of 3% and a maths pass rate of only 13%.
That is why, in the award category, "Excellence in academic performance", awards will be made to the top twenty schools in the province that have achieved excellence in academic results in 2012, based on the consistency of the school in the number of Grade 12 candidates over a period of 3 years, the percentage of candidates with access to Bachelor's degree study and the ratio of mathematics passes.
Success in all three areas is a good indicator of an achieving school.
In the "Most improved school" category, awards will be made to schools that have shown the greatest improvement in the numbers of candidates that pass over the period 2010 to 2012, as well as, awards to schools that have shown the greatest increase in the number of candidates achieving access to Bachelor's degree studies over the period 2010 to 2012. Awards will also be given to schools for individual subjects. These subjects are Mathematics, Physical Science, Accounting, English Home Language, Afrikaans Home Language and isiXhosa Home Language.
The school that shows the greatest improvement in performance, in terms of increases in the number of passes in these subjects in 2012, compared to its performance in 2011, will be presented. An award for each subject will also be given to the school that produced the highest number of passes.
The schools to be celebrated are from a range of quintiles, geographic areas and serve learners across a variety of socio-economic backgrounds - rural, township, suburban and inner city.
For individual learners, the WCED will again be presenting a Merit List of candidates for the 2012 NSC. This list will include learners who have achieved the top academic positions in the province, as well as learners from previously disadvantaged backgrounds with excellent meritorious achievement.
The results of these learners when announced on Wednesday will demonstrate the high quality of our learners irrespective of their backgrounds.
The top three candidates in this Merit List will be announced according to their position. These candidates will be awarded based on the marks obtained in the best six subjects that fulfil the requirements for the award of a National Senior Certificate.
An individual award will also be given to the top candidate for excellence despite barriers to learning. Various learner subject awards will be presented to individual candidates who have achieved the best results in subjects such as isiXhosa Home Language, English Home Language, Afrikaans Home Language, Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Accounting.
In the 2011 NSC awards we introduced for the first time a special ministerial award. In 2011, this award was given to two candidates who had achieved excellent academic results in the face of tremendous hardship, ill health and personal obstacles. This year, the Minister will be presenting two Special Ministerial Awards based on his own criteria.