Minister Debbie Schäfer announces revised NSC Award Criteria

Debbie Schäfer, MPP

Western Cape Minister of Education

Today I have the pleasure of announcing the criteria that will be used for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Awards 2014.

The annual NSC awards ceremony, held at the Premier’s residence Leeuwenhof, gives the Western Cape Government the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of learners and schools that have excelled academically in the NSC examinations, many of which do so in difficult conditions. Award winners are identified through a set list of criteria compiled in discussion between myself and the WCED.

I am excited to announce that this year’s criteria include some new award categories that are in line with our strategic vision for the next five year period – categories that promote technical and IT skills.

Job creation and economic growth are a top priority for this Government.

Lack of practical experience is one of the main barriers to job market entry for young people. Training learners in valuable skills is just one way we can open the door of economic opportunity to young people. Technical schools, or schools that offer technical subjects, have played a major role in the development of engineering knowledge and skills of some of our learners.

While we value the role these schools play in developing the technical skills of our learners, they have never been recognised or celebrated at the NSC awards. Similarly, learners that have excelled in these subjects have also not been recognised.

Given the importance of these subjects to the future growth of our economy in the Western Cape, I have now introduced a new category under the “Excellence in academic performance” awards to include technical schools.

The criteria under this category include consistent enrolment in Grade 12 during a three year period, an average pass rate of 80%, at least 40% of the candidates having passed maths and the total marks for technical subjects. These subjects include Engineering Graphics and Design, Civil Technology, Electrical Technology and Mechanical Technology.

Under the category, “Improvement and Excellence for individual subjects” I have also included four new subject categories which schools will be awarded for either excellence in the subject or for improvement. These four subjects include Engineering Graphics and Design, Civil Technology, Information Technology and Computer Applications Technology (CAT).

I have included Information Technology and CAT because of their importance in all sectors of our economy, and our commitment to expanding computer access to schools in this Province.

For the same reasons as mentioned above, I have also included in the criteria subject awards for individual learners for excellence in Engineering Graphics and Design, Civil Technology, Information Technology and Computer Applications Technology (CAT).

In order to encourage retention and improve outcomes, we have decided not to have the “top twenty” schools in the province for the excellence in academic performance award. In this category, we will instead rank and award all schools that comply with the following criteria; consistent enrollment in Grade 12 for a three year period, an overall pass rate of at least 95%, at least 80% of candidates qualifying for bachelor degree study and 60% passing mathematics.

Other award criteria, such as the most improved public schools, increases in bachelor passes, improvement and excellence in individual subjects and the merit list will remain the same as previous years

The criteria will continue to promote the objectives we have set in our strategic plan.

By releasing the criteria now, I hope to spark some healthy competition in our schools and individual learners. In these last remaining weeks, if planned correctly, candidates can target certain subject areas for improvement which can result in significant increases in their results.

Spring holidays are just around the corner and I would like to appeal to all our learners to use this time either at home or in Spring Schools wisely. These holidays present an opportunity for our Grade 12 learners to put in a few extra hours of study, work through old exam papers and consult their ‘tips for success’ booklets.

I have every confidence in the Class of 2014, and look forward to next year’s celebration in honour of all our top schools and candidates in the 2014 NSC.