IEB School

Notre Dame St Peter’s School


IEB stands for the Independent Examinations Board. It is an assessment body that is accredited by Umalusi, the South African statutory body responsible for quality assurance for school and adult assessments. The IEB offers external assessment in accordance with legislation and Umalusi directives for schools registered with it at Grade 9 and Grade 12, at which point successful learners are awarded the National Senior Certificate and for adult learning from ABET Level 1 through to NQF Level 1. The IEB training section, Assessment Education and Training Pty (Ltd), provides training in assessment.


The IEB also provides additional assessments that complement teaching and learning in schools at other levels.


The term “independent” was very important at the time of the inception of the organization. In 1989 the Joint Matriculation Board (JMB) relinquished its examination function. At that time the JMB was the only non-racial South African assessment body. To ensure that South Africa still maintained at least one non-racial assessment body at Grade 12 during the time of apartheid, a number of heads at independent schools founded the IEB to assume the assessment function of the JMB.


At that time, the term “independent” emphasized a very important aspect of the work of the IEB, namely being a beacon of opposition to the establishment of the day. Today, the IEB is a recognized play in the South African education landscape, committed to building a robust system for all learners in our country. The significance of its independence now is to provide an alternate voice on curriculum and assessment matters, to contribute positively to debate on educational issues and to provide an approach that ensures that independent schools are accommodated in respect of their needs and desires within the South African education framework, for the greater good of our country. The IEB sees itself as a partner in our country’s education system, supporting that which needs to be supported with whatever we have to contribute, and questioning that which needs to be questioned. As our history would suggest, the IEB supports democratic principles and the rational voice in education. 


It is important to note that the IEB is a Section 21 company that has been approved as a public benefit organization in terms of the Income Tax Act. Therefore it has been registered by the Department of Social Development as a non profit organization. Every product and service rendered must be self sufficient and no subsidy is received by government. Even its directors are not paid a fee to serve the organization.

How do IEB university students fare at university?

One must remember that being accepted at a tertiary institution is only the very first step. The success of a learner once accepted, depends to a very large extent on how well they have been prepared to cope with the academic demands of the subjects they choose to study, the discipline required for working and studying, the skills required for critical engagement in more complex issues and finally the ability to organize oneself and balance one’s activities to ensure that one’s studies receive the attention they require. The IEB is confident that learners attending IEB schools are well prepared to cope with the demands placed on them at tertiary level.  


This is borne out by study carried out at the University of Cape Town (UCT) which looked at the success rate of IEB students over a period of 3 years (2005-2007). In that study it was noted 25% of first degree graduates at UCT in 2007 came from IEB schools. Furthermore, in that same study, it was determined that on average over a 3 year period, the throughput rate of learners from IEB  schools i.e. learners who graduated after three years or were enrolled for further study, was 98%.


One concern is that, while is it accepted that once given entry to university the IEB learner is equipped to be successful, the learner may not get into university in the first place. The experience of IEB schools to date is that learners who will benefit from a university education and deserve to gain entry, usually do. However, it is worth remembering that there are multiple routes of entry that a learner may pursue. One must also remember that the more prestigious universities are sought after by top learners from all over the country and from our neighboring countries. Hence the pressure for first-year entry is great.


The following are options that can be pursued:

  • Apply for entry to a related course at the institution as well as the primary course of study that the student wishes to follow; after the first year of successful study, apply to transfer to the primary course of study e.g. medicine and a B SC.
  • Complete the first year of study at another institution and then transfer to the original institution of choice
  • Enquire about the Senate’s Discretionary entrance


Always be sure to check beforehand that the institution the student wishes to graduate from, recognizes the institution and the course you will study initially.

Do IEB learners get any special consideration when they apply for entry to university?

Because all learners in South Africa offer the same curriculum and Umalusi issues the National Senior Certificate to all successful learners, universities cannot use the NSC certificates to distinguish between learners from different examining bodies. However, the initial statement of Results does clearly indicate which examining body is issuing the statement. In addition, the IEB downloads the results of its learners to universities who use the data to check applicants’ results on registration.


It should be noted too that universities and Technikons often make an initial decision about acceptance of a learner on the basis of Grade 11 results from a school. In many instances they have a very good idea of the reliability of the marks they receive from schools and hence have a very good idea whether these marks accurately predict what a learner from that school will achieve at the end of Grade 12 and whether a learner will cope with the demands of the course for which they are applying.


The demand on higher education institutions to accept learners who will succeed is great simply because a substantial part of their subsidy is dependent on throughput rates. Furthermore because of the increased demand, higher education institutions need to give selection issues much greater attention than in the past. While most institutions are guided by the Admission Points Score, a number of prominent institutions conduct a placement and selection test to discriminate between learners who may achieved similarly in Grade 11. Others conduct what is called an exclusion test for borderline learners. Whatever name is given to the selection test, the IEB believes that learners being prepared for an IEB examination will also have the fundamental skills and knowledge to do well in such tests.


Consideration is often also given to a range of other issues e.g. government applied quotas, community service, participation in extramural activities, offering additional subjects such as Mathematics Paper 3 or Advanced Programme Mathematics.

The Intentional Educational Beliefs of the IEB

The IEB works in an educational environment of extremes – state and independent schools; well-resourced and under-resourced schools; exceptional teaching that compares very well with the best in the world and classrooms in which, at best, teaching is synonymous with reading from a set of notes or a textbook, if a teacher is present at all; schools in which integrity and concern for a common good are overriding values and others where success is attained by fair means or foul, where values are secondary to one’s own individual needs and desires. One can go on and on describing the range of diverse attitudes, situations and experiences evident in the education landscape in our country, in our region and on our continent.


Faced with the dilemmas that are education in South Africa, the staff and Board members of the IEB reflected on our intentions in participating in the educational project of this region. We are clear that education is as much a philosophical undertaking, underpinned by social as well as educational values, as it is a technical exercise carried out by a professional body of experts. It was the desire to make the philosophical underpinnings of the IEB’s work explicit that led to the formulation of this statement – The Intentional Educational Beliefs of the IEB.


In this statement we have tried to explain what we see as the educational purpose of an organization such as the IEB. In our assessments and related activities we attempt to encourage schools and teachers to provide learners with the opportunities to explore topics, participate in activities and be exposed to discussions and debates that develop the kinds of skills and attitudes we believe every modern member of our society needs to have mastered. Our complex world and our own very complex society demands citizens who are not only courageous but able to determine what we need and how to bring that better world into being. The IEB makes every effort to ensure that our assessments are globally competitive and that our learners have access to assessments that compete at the highest level. We believe that given the opportunity, our learners from our region are capable of achieving along with the top global achievers; this is the driver for the IEB Advanced programmes and our participation in international benchmark tests.


It is this belief in the quality of our learners and our nation that inspires the IEB to try and influence the educational experience beyond assessment.


It is with this backdrop that the IEB presents this statement of what it stands for as an educational institution.


The Intentional Educational Beliefs of the IEB


The vision of the IEB is to advance quality teaching and learning in South Africa through an assessment process of integrity, innovation and international comparability.


The IEB is cognizant that assessment is essential in developing learners who are responsible South African citizens, able to negotiate the challenges of a global world. Through our assessments, we are motivated to develop learners who are:


  • critical users of information
  • ethical reasoners
  • problem solvers
  • creative and reflective thinkers
  • lifelong learners
  • society members respectful of diversity, particularly in the Southern African context
  • active citizens who are committed to upholding the principles of the South African Constitution and the wellbeing of all people


The IEB supports the position that actively promoting quality education for every South African citizen is fundamental in establishing a just, open society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights, in which cultural diversity is appreciated and embraced.


The IEB’s mission is to make a significant, on-going contribution to human resource development through the design, delivery and promotion of a wide range of high quality, affordable assessment products and services to all sectors.


The work of the IEB is underpinned by a commitment to the following values: integrity, respect, commitment and service, professionalism, communication, quality and teamwork.