It’s high time we consider merging IEB and NSC exams, says Prof Madiba

It’s high time we consider merging IEB and NSC exams, says Prof Madiba. Photo: by Michael Walker

It’s high time we consider merging IEB and NSC exams, says Prof Madiba. Photo: by Michael Walker

Published Jan 21, 2024


As a country, we should be very proud of our matriculants as they showed consistent improvement in our education system, dean of education at the University of Stellenbosch Professor Mbulu Madiba said.

“The Class of 2023 can be congratulated for their hard work and resilience. However, the results also need to be viewed against the backdrop of many students who dropped out before reaching Grade 12. If the number of these students is factored in, we will realise that the pass percentage is much lower,” the professor added.

Madiba was reacting to the matric results of the Class of 2023 that were released by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga last week Thursday.

The Class of 2023 achieved a pass rate of 82.9%, from 2022’s 80.1%, which showed an improvement of 2.8%.

A total of 715 719 full-time and 182 056 part-time candidates registered to sit for the 2023 NSC (National Senior Certificate) examinations.

On the quality of the exams, Madiba told The Star that the quality of the examinations had been approved by Umalusi.

“Umalusi accepted raw marks of about 40 subjects out of 60 which did not adjust 48 subjects out of 60, and adjusted only 12 upward and less than 10 downwards.

“The results show the system is maturing and is therefore reliable for reflecting the learning and competencies among the learners. The number of bachelor and distinction passes has increased.”

During the presentation of the results, Motshekga revealed that 282 894 learners qualified for university admission to bachelor studies, with KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng contributing the most passes, adding that 187 876 learners passed with a diploma.

“It should be noted that, while the pass rate of the 2023 NSC exams in number is the second highest in the history of the NSC exams; when expressed as a percentage, the pass rate of the 2023 NSC exams, is the highest in the history of the NSC so far,” the minister said at the time.

Madiba said the reason why the EIB’s results were seen to be far better than those of the NSC, was that the NSC was a far bigger system which had about a million learners, whereas IEB was just a small exam system.

He continued to say that the IEB schools were often well-resourced and were located in environments conducive to learning.

On the question of learners having to write examinations on two different systems, the professor said the two systems were just tools used to assess the same curriculum.

“IEB exam system is more demanding and requires learners who have been well prepared. However, as the NSC exam is maturing, the gap between the two exam systems is narrowing and it might be an opportune time to consider if the two systems can be merged.”

The minister alluded that 56.4% of the learners who wrote the 2023 NSC exams were girls, while 43.6% were boys.

Motshekga further disclosed that 42% of those were girls and 39.6% of them were boys who attained bachelor passes, while 26.1% of the girls and 28.6% of the boys attained diploma passes.

She concluded by saying that 14.8% of the girls and 14.6% of the boys attained higher certificate passes, while female candidates attained 66.4% of the distinctions.

The Star

Sipho Jack

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