2021 MEC Exams Announcement

Posted on Wednesday, 24 February 2021

By Communications

Category: Latest News

The 2020 academic year was our real “Annus Horribilis”.

We lost our teachers, we lost our administrators and we lost our learners.

Above all, we lost our Head of Department, Mr. Themba Kojana who succumbed to the pandemic.

May their souls rest in peace. At this point may I request that we all rise for a moment in honor of those heroes and heroines whom we lost to COVID-19 pandemic.  May their souls rest in peace.

Amidst COVID 19 pandemic challenges, over 130 000 candidates managed to write NSC/SC 2020 examinations, and ‘no child was left behind’.

All candidates who qualified wrote NSC/SC examinations, including those tested positive to COVID 19, were allowed to write in a specially prepared school environment.

This achievement was a game- changer. It sent a message that COVID-19 is not a death sentence, nor is it a crusher of someone’s dreams.

The Department ensured that thousands of anxious candidates did not have their dreams deferred but were accorded an opportunity to start their journey to the future, here and now.

The Department of Education in the Eastern Cape had to conduct Grade 12 National Senior Certificate examinations in 933 full time public schools, including 50 independent schools and 147 part-time centres. The 933 full time examination centres inclusive of public and independent schools registered 79 888 full time candidates.

5 842 markers were employed to undertake marking, and 1200 Examination assistance were appointed to support the marking process. In 2020 there was no Multiple Examination Opportunities for progressed learners as per the Cabinet decision, and they had to write all 7 subjects in November 2020.

The Class of 2020

The Eastern Cape Department of Education fielded a higher number of Grade 12 learners compared to 2019.  There were 72 926 learners in 2020 compared to 63 198 in 2019, an increase of 9 728, representing a 15.3% increase.

The Eastern Cape Grade 12 Class of 2020 was in Grade 1 in 2009 and 211 133 were in the books of the Department and 11 years later 82 449 were in Grade 12 which indicates 61% cohort loss along the journey.

Out of the 82 449 full time candidates in the school system 79 670 were registered for NSC examinations.

Gratefully and gracefully, the 2020 academic year was brazenly saved by the Department of Basic Education to the disbelief of many doomsayers/naysayers.

This achievement was despite the global push to postpone examinations as was captured in different countries.

Learner Performance

The matric pass of 2020 is 68.1%, a drop from 76.4% of 2019.

All Districts experienced a drop in pass rates with highest drop of 14.9% in Joe Gqabi, followed by OR Tambo Coast at 12.5%.

Bachelor Pass 

Bachelor passes were least affected at 30%, showing a drop 2.3% from 2019

Bachelor pass

However, more learners earned a Bachelor in 2020 at 21 886 compared to 20 419 in 2019.

The highest Bachelor passes were obtained in BCM at 37.5%, followed by NMB at 36.9% and Sarah Baartman at 32.8%.

Figures indicate that the 3 District improved their Bachelor passes compared to 2019 Bachelor passes.

District Performance

Least drops were Amathole West at 1.6% and Buffalo City at 4.3%.

The top 3 performing Districts were Nelson Mandela at 75.5%, BCM at 73.6%, as well as CHW at 70.5%.

The bottom 3 Districts were Joe Gqabi at 61.5%, Chris Hani East at 62.2% and Amathole West at 63.2%. Cluster performance has indicated that the biggest impact was in Cluster A where they dropped from 76.2% to 65%. Cluster B dropped the least from 76.8% to 71%.

Schools Performance

Quintiles 1-3 schools were the hardest hit by the pandemic, dropping by 9% on average.

Quintile 4 had a slight drop of 4.7% from 82.7% to 78%. Quintile 5 remains unchanged in a pass average of 92.2%. Trends are indicating that the poorest Quintiles were most affected

Subject Performance

Big enrolment subjects have shown signs of resilience despite ravages of the pandemic. Business Studies improved from 68% to 77.8% and History improved from 87.2 to 87.9.

Our learners were hardest hit in Physical Science which dropped from 70.2% to 55.6%, and the subject carries 25 870 learners.

In languages, English First Additional Languages has shown a significant improvement, from 96.5% to 98.5%, and it carries the majority of learners in the system.

Both Afrikaans and English Home Languages had a slight improvement at 1.5% and 2.8% respectively.

IsiXhosa and Sesotho have a marginal decrease of 0.1% in both languages.


There are subjects that have shown a commendable improvement in the number of distinctions obtained by our learners.

Distinctions in the following subjects improved:

• Accounting from 2.9% to 3.7%
• Agriculture Science from 1.2% to 1.6%
• Economics from 0.5% to 0.8%
• English FAL from 0.6% to 1.1%
• Life Orientation from 7.2% to 8.6%
• Mathematics from 0.9% to 1.5%

Improvement in Distinctions per District are quite commendable.

BCM maintained a healthy improvement of Distinctions from 4.4% to 4.6%, followed by Sarah Baartman from 2.8% to 4%, as well as Amathole East from 3% to 4% improvement.

Noteworthy improvements were also shown by the following Districts:

• Alfred Nzo West from 1.9% to 2%
• Amathole West from 1.4% to 2%
• Chris Hani West from 2.2% to 2.4%

The Administration of Examination

Because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, almost 50 school days were lost and in order to recover some of these lost teaching and learning days the examination timetable had to be shifted between November and December.

May/June NSC /SC examinations were cancelled due to Covid-19 lockdown and merged with NSC 2020 November examinations.

This had huge logistical implications with ripple effects on financial and human resources.
However, the administration, management and conduct of examination fully adhered to the Covid-19 pandemic regulations such as social distancing and all other safety measures to protect lives of learners and teachers.

Congratulatory Note

I would like to begin by congratulating the Eastern Cape class of 2020.

Remain assured that the Eastern Cape government is committed to ensuring that the National Senior Certificate is the first step on your road to further studies and work opportunities.

We are also committed to ensuring that those who did not complete the NSC in 2020 are supported to success.

The Eastern Cape Department of Education already has detailed plans for those wishing to write NSC examinations in October/November 2021. These plans will be communicated in the next few weeks of February 2021.

My heart goes to all of our teachers for their dedication and hard work.

You made us proud for your heart-warming battles against the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic and went an extra mile to ensure that our learners had every opportunity possible to succeed in the NSC.

You provided extra lessons; you participated in Saturday Schools and afternoon sessions, you provided additional study materials; you ensured that your learners’ School-based Assessment was completed, and the results submitted on time.

You encouraged and cajoled. We, the citizens of the Eastern Cape salute you and thank you for all that you have done for our young people.

My heartfelt gratitude also goes to the leadership of all Teacher Unions in the province – the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU); the National Professional Teachers’ Association of South Africa and the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwys Unie (SAOU). You were with us from the very first day of the national lockdown.

May I echo the words of the Head of Education in the province, Mr Themba Kojana, when he wrote to you in his end of year letter in 2019 that your support for and dedication to quality education is much appreciated.

The robust and vigorous debates between the Unions and the ECDOE have strengthened education in the province and our collaborative work is beginning to pay dividends.

Going Forward

I am particularly pleased to announce the slow but steady improvement in our Primary schooling performance, especially improvements in the Foundation Phase pass rate.

We are therefore beginning to celebrate the success of all the children of the province.

We must and we will continue to ensure that every child who starts schooling in the Eastern Cape has the best possible opportunity to learn to read, write and calculate at the levels which will allow them to achieve their full potential.

However, we are painfully aware that there is a long way to go in providing all children in the province with quality education.

It is for this reason that the Department has spent so much time in ensuring we are ready to welcome over 1, 7 million children to schools in 2021.

I can confirm today that we are substantively ready for the 2021 school year.

▪ All schools have received their 2021 PPN allocation letters ▪ 95% of schools have received their Workbooks, Textbooks and Stationery. The remaining 5% of schools will receive their books before close of February 2021.

▪ School furniture was delivered to schools throughout the year and we have large numbers of furniture in stock to address shortages reported in 2021.

▪ The Teacher Development Prospectus for 2021 has been developed and circulated.

▪ All divisions of the ECDOE have detailed 2021-year planners.

▪ Plans are in place for the timeous transfer of funds to schools.

▪ Good progress has been made in enrolling learners in schools.


 I would like to conclude by thanking all those who have contributed to the stabilisation of teaching and learning in 2020 – the learners; their teachers and parents; the Unions; the School Governing Body Associations and individual School Governing Bodies.

I would particularly like to thank the Acting SG and his team, especially those in the districts who prepared the learners for the NSC examinations and those who administered the examinations.

I thank you all for your wonderful efforts

Hon. F Gade, MPL and MEC for Education Eastern Cape

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