MEC's Statement during the Release of 2023 NSC Results

Author: ECDOE
Date: 19 January 2024

Release of 2023 National Senior Certificate Results 

Chair of the session

Hon. Premier


Members of the Executive Council

Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Education

Hon. Members of the Legislature

House of Traditional Leaders

South African Council of Churches and other Religious Institutions

Chapter 9 Institutions within the Province

Vice Chancellors & their respective delegation

Bishop Mbethe

HOD and the entire Management

School Principals and Educators

All Teacher Unions

All SGB Associations

Eastern Cape Advisory Council

Members of the 4th Estate

Ladies and Gentlemen


  1. Introduction

It gives me pleasure to give an account of Eastern Cape performance in the 2023 National Senior Certificate Examinations. The Grade 12 class of 2023 is the 10th cohort to sit for the National Senior Certificate Examination based on CAPS. It is a cohort that entered Grade 1 in 2012 and most probably had a fairly stable and conducive teaching and learning environment up to 2019, when their Grade 9 class was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they had 3 years of uninterrupted teaching and learning from Grades 10-12

In all respects, 2023 represents a watershed period in the learner performance trajectory of the Eastern Cape. This is characterized by a number of inaugurations, ranging from pass percentages, bachelor passes, subjects pass marks, as well as performance by examination centers.

The year 2023 is also marked by improved quality and good standard of School Based Assessment submitted to Umalusi for resulting. The means the persistent emphasis on formative School Based Assessment over the past few years has paid off handsomely in 2023. 

  1. Performance Overview 
  • Provincial Overall Pass Rate

The Class of 2023 obtained 81.4% pass percentage, a 4.1% improvement to 77.3% pass mark of the Class of 2022. Over the term, this represents a shift from the 76.5% of 2019 to 81.4% in 2023, representing a 4.9% shift over the term. The Eastern Cape has produced a total of 316 095 passes over the term from 2019 to 2023,.

  • Bachelor Passes

The number of Bachelor passes increased by 2.8 % from 36.8% in 2022 to 39.6% in 2023. In real terms it means 37898 of the 95 697 learners obtained a Bachelor pass in 2023 compared to 34974 in 2022. Over the term from 2019 to 2023, the Eastern Cape has produced 146 561 Bachelor passes and 108 442 Diploma passes.

  • Distinctions  

Equally improving is the number of distinctions over the last 5, moving from 15745 in 2019 to 29064 in 2023. Year on year improvement have equally scaled up from 3.7% in 2022 to 4.2% in 2023. This is evident in the quality of passes in each subject written in 2023.

  • Subject Performance

Subject performance, across spectrum, improved in 2023. Of the 52 subjects that were written,42 subjects have shown an upward trajectory, and only 10 subjects dropped by low margins. High enrolment subjects, with no less than 10 000 learners for the specific subject, exhibited commendable improvements, with Mathematics, Physics and History showing unprecedented upward trajectories. Trends analysis between 2022 and 2023 shows the following commendable subject performance improvements:

  • Home Languages
  • 4 out of 5 HL subjects improved commendably.
  • Afrikaans improved by 3,5% from 84,9% to 88,5%
  • IsiXhosa improved by 0,2% from 99,5% to 99,7%
  • SeSotho improved by 0,4% from 99,3% to 99,7%
  • Sign Language improved by 22,6% from 52,4% to 75%
  • Gateway Subjects

In gateway subjects, 8 out of 12 improved commendably.

  • Agricultural Sciences improved by 2,7% from 81,1% to 83,9%
  • Business Studies improved by 6,4% from 75,5% to 81,9%
  • Geography improved by 9,2% from 77.8% to 87%
  • History improved by 2,8% from 87,2% to 90%
  • Life Sciences improved by 4,4% from 72.2% to 76,6%
  • Physical Science improved by 4,5% from 70.5% to 75%
  • Mathematics improved by 11,3% from 46,1% to 57,4%

There was a decline, although marginal, in four high enrolment subjects. Trends in decline are as follows:

  • Accounting dropped by 0,2% from 76,9% to 76,7
  • Economics dropped by 0,3% from 78,6% to 78,3
  • Mathematical Literacy dropped by 2,5% from 83,1% to 80,6%
  • Tourism dropped by 0,9% from 98% to 97,1%

However, the decline is equally an opportunity to design new turnaround plans that will eliminate marginal declines altogether.

  • Centre Performance

The Province presented 953 fulltime examination centres, and their performance per centile has improved quite considerably. 91% of our schools perform at 70% pass and above, with no school performing at 20% pass and below. Worth noting are improvements in the following categories:

  • The number of schools performing at 60% and below has reduced from 131 to only 81, meaning that only 8.4% of our schools perform at 60% and below
  • The number of schools performing at 80% pass has increased from 202 to 216
  • The number of schools performing at 90% pass has increased from 236 to 307
  • The number of schools performing above 90% pass has increased from 233 to 254
  • Quitile Performance

The bulk of schools with improved performance are in Quintiles 1-3. This means Quintiles 1-3 schools constitute 76% of schools obtaining a pass mark of 70% to 100%. Trends are:

  • 20% of these schools are in Quintile 1
  • 19% of these schools are in Quintile 2
  • 2% of these schools are in Quintile 3
  • Only 9.2% are in Quintiles 4 and 5.

By way of deduction, this means that Districts with high enrolments and bigger number of centres automatically became major game-changers. However, worth noting is the fact that not a single Quintile 5 school in the Eastern Cape performs below 80% for the last 2 years

  • District Performance

District performance took a new turn in 2023, with 8 Districts performing above 80%, with the remaining 4 performing between 76% and 79%. Five more Districts, compared to 2022, joined the 80% benchmark.

The top 5 performing District in 2023 are:

  • Alfred Nzo East is number 1 at 85,1%, with 8.1% improvement to 77,0%
  • Alfred Nzo West is number 2 at 84,2%, with 1.5% improvement to 82,7%
  • Chris Hani East number 3 at 84,1% with 4,5% improvement to 79,6%
  • Joe Gqabi is number 4 at 83,9% with 12.2% improvement to 71,7%
  • Nelson Mandela is number 5 at 83,1% with 2,7% improvement to 80,4%

Joe Gqabi is the most improved District at 12,2% improvement, followed by Chris Hani West at 8,9%, Alfred Nzo East at 8,1%, as well as OR Tambo Coastal at 7,2%. District Bachelor pass rate has improved commendably. Only 5 of the 12 Districts performed below the Provincial average of 39,6% bachelor passes and 7 performed above 40%. Here is the rundown of the top performing Districts in Bachelor passes:

  • Chris Hani East at 45.1% is the top with 3.8% improvement from 41.3%
  • BCM at 42.6% is second best albeit a decline of 1.5% to 43.5% in 2022
  • Alfred Nzo West is third at 42.2% with 1.7% improvement from 40.5%
  • Alfred Nzo East is fourth at 41.9% with improvement of 5.2% from 36.7%

Not a single District is below 30% Bachelor pass rate in 2023, an improvement from the two in 2021 of Joe Gqabi at 27.3% and OR Tambo Coastal at 28%. 

  1. 2023 Grade 12 Cohort in Context

Ladies and Gentlemen, these improvements in 2023 must be seen in the context of a system wide Education System Transformation Plan of the Department, whose strategic thrust is to maximise opportunities of learners achieving a good pass in the NSC Examinations while improving performance in the whole system.

However, this would not have happened if collaboration with Teacher Unions in the Province was non-existent. The was most fruitful and useful when it came to management of extra demands on teacher‘s time. This helped in creating a conducive environment for teaching and learning.

  1. Curriculum Interventions during 2023

Curriculum interventions were based on basic principles of improving curriculum performance. These basic principles are comprehensive data analysis (to identify strengths and areas of intervention), development of targeted/differentiated intervention programmes, and establishment accountability systems aimed at managing performance.

Curriculum interventions were done in three phases of “push and hold” activities, namely, First Push: Identify and remedy (during Term 1), Second Push: Cover all basics (during term 2) and Last Push: Consolidate and practice (during term 3 and term 4).

The intervention programmes for the academic year included extra tuition classes (in the form of morning and afternoon classes, weekend classes and vacation classes), streaming of virtual lessons, provision of additional Learner Support Material, additional assessment activities (ranged from topic tests, mock exams and pre-June and pre-Trial examinations).

  • Morning and Afternoon Classes

Extra classes were planned and managed at school level by the HoDs and the teachers concerned. These classes were conducted to extend educator-learner contact time. The focus in terms 1 and 2 was on pacing up content coverage and term 3 and 4 the focus was on consolidation and practice. Subject advisors had a duty to play oversight role and also to monitor and support the programme. 

  • Autumn Classes

Autumn Classes were conducted at the end of term 1 to deal with learning losses, consolidate content coverage and revise challenging topics. Autumn classes were planned by districts in conjunction with head office. 

  • Winter Classes 

Winter Classes were planned conjunction with Districts. Subject Planners and Subject advisors identified challenging topics in terms 1 and 2, developed intervention strategies and designed differentiated learner support material that were subject specific. Subjects that underperformed as per term 1 and term 2 analyses    were targeted. The focus is on recovering learning losses, consolidating conceptual development, revision of challenging topics, as well as and introducing new term 3 topics.

  • Spring Classes

Subjects that underperformed in Terms 1, 2 and 3 were targeted for special support. The extra tuition classes focused on recovering learning losses, consolidation of conceptual development and preparing learners for the final examinations. During this period extensive revision strategies were employed with special focus on high enrolment subjects and subjects there were poorly performed during Preparatory Examinations. 

  • Virtual Lessons

Virtual classes were planned and coordinated jointly by Secondary Curriculum Management and E-Teaching and Learning Directorates. Virtual classes were aimed at supporting teaching and facilitate learning in all subjects. These lessons also targeted learners with no educators. During examinations time virtual revision classes were conducted for all subjects with special focus on Accounting, Mathematics and 

  • Online Support for Grade 12 Learners

The ECDOE developed a variety of online Learner Support Materials, uploaded on the department’s websites together with previous years’ question papers. Districts and schools were made aware of the material and  advised on accessing such material. Useful websites to access these resources are the ECDOE websites and 

  1. Support from other Organisations

The province grateful for the support it got from a number of partners, ranging from Local Municipality efforts, private NGOs and SOEs. The Department is grateful for collaborations carried out with Math & Science Infinity, Jenn Consulting, NECT, Eskom/Trac-SA, as well as Kutlwanong. These organizations focused on various subjects such as Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Languages.

The department is also grateful to the Eastern Cape Gambling Board for the assistance provided in the form of Science kits for subjects like Physical and Technical Sciences. These partners were helpful in the organization and coordination of extra tuition classes. Working with Subject Advisors, they assisted with Differentiated Additional Learner Support Materials, as well as motivating educators and learners. 

  1. Conclusion

In conclusion I am proud to express that no learners were left behind in getting opportunity to sit for their NSC examinations.  The key message to unsuccessful candidates is to regroup and pursue their dreams.  To all the successful candidates the Department wishes them all the best in their future endeavours and make this province and the country proud.  The future of this country is in your hands, make it work.

I thank you

F Gade, MPL and MEC for Eastern Cape Department of Education   
PHOTOGRAPHER - PUMZILE LUDIDI                       

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