Basic Education on Western Cape Education statement

It is disappointing that the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) should have released a statement, on 4 January, claiming, on the basis of what is a patently flawed analysis, that the province produced the country’s highest number of National Senior Certificates (NSCs) relative to the population. This is incorrect, and masks serious challenges which the Western Cape faces when it comes to getting poorer and black (specifically black African and coloured) youths to successfully complete Grade 12.

The table released by WCED, claiming the province occupies position one, divides NSCs in 2018 by Grade 10 enrolment two years back, so in 2016. The problem with this is that Western Cape’s grade repetition in Grade 10 is exceptionally low, meaning that the resultant statistic will be superficially high. These statistical issues are something officials in WCED are well aware of as they are discussed at planning meetings where the national and nine provincial departments meet.

The reality, according to credible statistics released by the DBE, for instance in the 2018 NSC report released recently, is that Western Cape sits at roughly the national average, or slightly above, when it comes to youths attaining the NSC. It is clearly not in position one. The Western Cape has historically not been good at ensuring that black African and coloured learners attain the NSC. If one counts just these two population groups, then Western Cape still lags behind Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga when it comes to attainment of the NSC qualification (this is according to household data, but analysis using just administrative data from the education sector confirm this).

This situation has prevailed despite the fact that Western Cape performs rather well in the international tests, and is favourably placed when it comes to teacher qualifications and school infrastructure. These contradictions should receive closer attention by WCED. WCED should not be publishing clearly misleading statistics that hide real challenges.

Source: Government of South Africa