Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Provincial Matric Awards Keynote Address

Provincial Matric Awards Keynote Address by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Honourable Ms Sylvia Lucas , Mittah Seperepere Convention Centre, 7 January 2014

Asics Onitsuka Tiger






Programme Director
Honourable MEC for Education, Ms Cjiekella-Lecholo
Members of the Executive Council and the Provincial Legislature present
Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee on Education
Government Officials
Leaders and Members of School Governing Bodies
Representatives of our various donor companies
Parents, Principals and Educators
Leaders and Officials of our Educator and Learner formations
Members of the Press
Honoured Guests
The people of the Northern Cape

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is truly a privilege to be part of this grade 12 awards ceremony.

As I stand before you, I recall the words of one of humanity’s finest, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He said: "Occasionally in life there are moments which cannot be completely explained by words.  Their meaning can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart."

Today is such a moment for me.

My heart is filled with pride.

As I look around, I see beaming parents, proud relatives and friends, and I cannot help but be moved by the moment.

Many of you here today would have been ever present in the developmental and educational lives of our award recipients;

Many of you would have been there on the first day of starting school of our awardees, some twelve years ago, to the last day of high school; helping with homework, preparing lunches, attending parent meetings; and here you are again today - proud, happy and satisfied parents, guardians, relatives and friends!

All of you truly deserve a round of applause!

To the class of 2013: all your hard work has paid off.

Years of hard work have brought you to this moment, this place and this time.

This is your time!

Programme Director, allow me to repeat the facts that a total of 10 403 full-time candidates wrote the National Senior Certificate in the Northern Cape Province in 2013, as compared to 2012 which recorded a total number of 8 928 .

Interestingly, this is the largest cohort of candidates that completed the examination over the last five years.

Out of the 10 403 full-time candidates who wrote in 2013, 7 749 candidates passed, and 2 654candidates were, unfortunately, unsuccessful.

It is significant to note that although the overall pass rate for 2013 remains 74.5 %, the province registered an increase of 1 088 learners that passed the National Senior Certificate Examination.

In addition, an in-depth analysis revealed that the number of learners who passed with distinction has increased from 1 414 to 1 775, a total of 361 or (1.3%) candidates, more than 2012.

The analysis further revealed that 369 more candidates obtained university entrance to bachelor degree courses.

This increase of 369 (0.28%) candidates amounts to 2 424 compared to 2 044 in 2012.

The learners offering Mathematics increased with 275 from 2 865 in 2012 to 3 139 in 2013. The candidates who passed Mathematics increased by 326 from 1 572 in 2012 to 1810 in 2013.

The learners offering Physical Sciences indicate a growth of 338 candidates from 2 202 in 2012 to 2 540 in 2013. The candidates who passed Physical Sciences this year increased by 239. 

The pass rate Per District is as follows:

Frances Baard, 73.09%;
Pixley-Ka-Seme 71.68%;
Namaqua 89.45%;
Siyanda 76.13%
and John TaoloGaetsewe71.13%.

It must be emphasized that the 2013 grade 12 performance brings the John Tool Gaetsewe district that historically lacked behind with more than 10% compared to other districts on par with performances in the four other districts.

Additionally, the most improved school at the camp and in the province is Remmogo High School with an increase of 42.4%.

Provincially the number of schools performing below 60% regrettably increased from twenty two (22) to twenty four (24), but it needs to be mentioned that only six (6) schools in the JTG district obtained a pass rate below 60%.

This is a major achievement if compared to the eleven (11) schools in 2012.

Another big achievement for the district is the fact that the top performing learner in the province hails from this district.

The John Taolo Gaetsewe District’s achievements continue with not only producing the overall top studentin the province, but also the overall top students in Mathematics, Setswana Home Language and Geography.

What made the top performances in the three subjects even more special is the fact these learners are from a previously disadvantaged school, Galaletsang High School.

We also congratulate our Top Schools in the province and our Top Twenty Candidates.

I have deliberately repeated these facts so that all of us have the same understanding about the progress we are making in the education arena.

Programme Director, Each one of our matriculants has travelled their own road to get here, but are here together on the threshold of their future.

You are brimming with confidence, filled with unbridled optimism and hope, and ready for the infinite possibilities and opportunities that await you – the University; the SKA, and a number various initiatives that can only improve and enrich your lives.

What we see in you today; what your parents, relatives, friends, teachers, and our business partners see in you today is the pride and future of our province; our country and our continent.

We are here today, in our numbers because we believe in you; we believe in you because you believed in yourselves.

That unshakeable belief in yourselves that what will carry you through moments of doubt, when the path before you seems blocked your self-confidence, when you believe the river runs too deep to cross.


Today is a celebration of your achievement and contemplation of what now lies ahead.

Your achievements today have availed opportunities for you and given you choices which are yours to take and use.

You worked hard to get here.

As you make and take those choices, education remains the great equaliser and the great facilitator.

As you make and take those choices, understand that success in life will not be determined by what is given to you, or what happens to you; your success will largely be determined by what you do with all that is given to you; what you do with all that happens to you; how hard you try; how far you push yourself; how high you are willing to reach

True excellence only comes with perseverance.

We understand that you are in the middle of exciting times; you are in an age of a popular culture that says you can be rich and successful without much effort; you just have to become a celebrity!

However, unfortunately, it is not all gold that glitters; we read every week of celebrities and stars who sadly when they depart this world, they seem to have very little or nothing at all to show for their celebrity lifestyles and status.

We live in a culture that tells you there is a quick fix for every problem and a justification for every selfish desire.

As you are about to venture into the real world, the world of adults, the world of work, please be cautioned that meaningful achievement, lasting success does not happen in an instant.

It is not about luck like our MEC alluded to; it is not about a sudden stroke of genius.  It is not usually about talent also.

Meaningful achievement, lasting success is mostly and always about daily effort, about hard work and discipline.

I am glad that one of the few times I watched ‘Generations’, ‘Chopppa’ had the common sense for once, albeit through some coercion, to encourage a former girlfriend of his to get an education and not rely on the instant gratification of becoming an actor.

The brother of that girl is right even though his means of achieving that are questionable; often it is not all the glitz and glamour of Dineo-them as we see portrayed on TV, but a dog eats dog business; very tough, where only the strongest survive.

It is such choices; large choices and the small choices that you make today and tomorrow in your young lives, that add up over time;

It is about the skills you build; the knowledge you accumulate, and the energy you invest in every task, no matter how trivial or menial it may seem at the time.

Now, the truth is, no matter how hard you work, you are not necessarily going to succeed the first time you try something.

There are going to be times when you mess up;

There will be times where you hurt people you love; There will be times where you make a mistake and you stray from the values that you hold most deeply.

My advice to you is very simple- don’t make unnecessary excuses. Take responsibility, not just for your successes; take responsibility for you shortcomings and failures as well.

We know that it is not an easy thing to do; it is easier and more common place to always point a finger at somebody else.

Perhaps we could all take a leaf from the department of education, when two years ago when the department recorded the worst ever grade 12 results, MEC Cjiekella- Lecholo did not proffer excuses.

She did not blame the president or even the Premier for the poor results, but instead, together with her HOD, Senior Managers, and her entire staff, committed to work harder to turn the situation around.

And indeed the following year the department recorded the best improvement percentage and this year, they have kept up the steady improvement in the grade 12 results of our province.

Ladies and gentlemen; as I am about to conclude, today is not a time for long speeches; it is a time for celebration- I wish to offer my final piece of advice to our awardees; always learn to give back and to be part of something bigger than yourselves.

Like many of us you may feel like you have enough on your plate just dealing with your own life.

It might be easier to tell yourself that other people’s problems really are not your responsibility.

Let us just pause and think about the consequences of such an attitude for our country; if our leaders and founders would have taken a similar approach.

What would have happened if those heroes and heroines would have said that it was too dangerous to get involved in those things; we do not have time for all those meetings and marches and toyi toyis?

As we celebrate with our achievers today, lets us spare a thought to think about the extraordinary men and women who made huge sacrifices to ensure that the correct assertion contained in the freedom charter that the doors of learning and culture should be opened to all, is a given concrete expression; and today we reap the fruit of their sacrifices,

We are here today because those leaders and pioneers, including our beloved, Tata Madiba, may his soul rest in peace, made a different choice.

They chose to step up and answer their country’s call;

They chose to serve and I hope you will follow their example, because after twenty years of democracy, there is still even more work to be done.

Today, through these awards, we are asking you to have the same kind of impact with your own lives; by pursuing excellence in everything you do; by serving this province, this country, and all our people, without fear or favour.

Always be prepared to plough back to the community; to be part of something bigger than you.

You may feel like you have enough on your plate just dealing with your own life.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we will be getting to the polls again this year for our fifth general elections.

We are able to do this because those people made a different choice.

I therefore urge all of you who are eligible to vote to go out in your numbers, and if you have not already done so, go and register so that you are able to vote in the upcoming elections and make your voice heard; and become the difference you want to see!

When the government revised and created a new curriculum, it also  created a new culture —  a culture that prizes hard work and discipline; a culture that shows young people here and in all our schools, that they matter and that their teachers believe in them

Education is important, because it is transformative!

The qualities developed through sustained hard work “change how we see ourselves.”  When education is done right, students acquire “empathy, discipline, the capacity to solve problems, and the capacity to think critically.”

Through education, you can also better yourselves in many ways.

You learn how to acquire information -- how to think critically and find solutions to unexpected challenges

You will need to think on your feet. You will need to know how to gather facts and evaluate information.

And finally, with the right education, both at home and at school, you can learn how to be a better human being. For when you read a great story or you learn about an important moment in history, it helps you imagine what it would be like to walk in somebody else’s shoes; to know their struggles.

The success of our economy will depend on your skills, but the success of our community will depend on your ability to follow the golden rule - to treat others as you would like to be treated.

All of these qualities -- empathy, discipline, the capacity to solve problems, the capacity to think critically -- these skills do not just change how the world sees us; they change how we see ourselves.

They allow each of us to seek out new horizons and new opportunities with confidence -- with the knowledge that we are ready; that we can face obstacles and challenges and unexpected setbacks – that is the power of your education!

Each of you knows what it took you to get here; but in reaching this milestone, there is a common lesson shared by everyone here: “it is not where you are or what you are; .it is who you are.”

So, our class of 2013, the hard road does not end here.  Your long walk to freedom, in the words of our iconic Madiba, has just begun; there is no time to rest.

Please bear this in mind- your hard work will not always protect you against every setback or challenge or mistake.

You are going to have to keep working hard.  You are going to have to keep pushing yourselves.

In addition, you will find yourselves sometimes in situations where other people seem to have an easier time, where they are a little bit ahead of you, and you are going to have to work harder than they are, and you may be frustrated by that.

But if you keep pushing yourselves; if you build on what you have already accomplished here, then I could not be more confident about your futures.

I am hopeful and I am excited about what all of you can achieve.

You are ready to make your mark on the world stage.

A wise man once said, "Every one of us is given the gift of life, and what a strange gift it is.  If it is preserved jealously and selfishly, it impoverishes and saddens. But if it is spent for others, it enriches and beautifies."

Perhaps President Obama best interpreted this saying when he said of our beloved Madiba, and I quote,;

“Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa- Ubuntu - that describes his greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.”  And This is also what the NDP advocates and emphasises.

“We, too”, President Obama continued, " must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality.

And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.”

This year’s general elections offer us an opportunity to let our voices be heard.

“After this great liberator is laid to rest”; President Obama continued; “when we have returned to our cities and villages, and rejoined our daily routines, let us search then for his strength - for his largeness of spirit - somewhere inside ourselves.

And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, or our best laid plans seem beyond our reach - think of Madiba, and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of a cell:

It matters not how strait or narrow the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

You are the captains of your souls, and the masters of your fates!

And like all of us, you have Madiba as your nearest and dearest star; you cannot get lost.

Once more, congratulations to our top achievers and better luck to those who did not succeed.

Thank you for inspiring us!.

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