Congratulatory messages poured in for the matric class of 2016 on Wednesday, after the Education Department announced that the National Senior Certificate (NSC) class had achieved a pass rate of 72.5 percent – up from the 70.7 percent in 2015.
The 2016 pass rate includes progressed learners – those who had failed Grade 11 twice and been pushed through to Grade 12. Without the large cache of progressed learners, the pass rate would have been 76.2 percent.
The Class of 2016 had 108,742 registered progressed learners, which was an increase from the 65,673 progressed learners in 2015.
The African National Congress (ANC) sent a special commendation to the province of the Free State, which is the best preforming province in 2016, attaining an astounding and impressive pass rate of 93.2 percent.
“This achievement is no small feat, especially for a largely rural province, with continues to struggle with disparities in terms of resources, skills and prevailing socio-economic challenges,” the ANC said in a statement.
“Whilst there have been some notable improvements in KwaZulu-Natal in particular, this province together with the Eastern Cape and Limpopo constitutes almost 60 percent of all candidates for the National Senior Certificate. The ANC therefore welcomes the commitment by the Department of Basic Education to pay particular attention to the education outputs in these provinces.”
The party said that the increase in the number of Africans passing mathematics and science and the increase in the number of Bachelors’ passes was reflective of improved quality in the learning outcomes.
“We also commend interventions by government to provide dedicated support to learners to improve learner retention rates and mitigate against high drop out rates. The ANC urges those learners who may not have been successful in this year’s assessment to embrace the opportunities offered for remedial actions and second chances,” the party said.
“The ANC attributes this year’s achievements to the collaborative approach adopted by government to include the private sector, civil society, governing bodies, the educators, parents and learners in the quest to improve learning outcomes. We encourage continued investment in this area by all social partners with its noble objective of developing a pool of productive forces for our economy and our country.”
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced the results on Wednesday.
The total number of learners who registered for the 2016 NSC examinations, was 828,020, of which 674,652 were full-time candidates and 153,368 part-time candidates. A total of 610,178 full-time and 107,793 part-time learners wrote the 2016 NSC examinations.
“With progressed learners excluded, three provinces achieved at below 70 percent; five achieved above 80 percent; and one province achieved above 90 percent. The six provinces with above 80 percent must be commended,” Motshekga said.
“The 2016 NSC overall pass rate, with the progressed learners excluded, stands at 76.2 percent. However, with the progressed learners included, the 2016 NSC overall pass rate stands at 72.5 percent, which represents 442,672 candidates who have passed, the second largest in history. Well done to the Class of 2016!!!”
The Free State was the top performing province with 93.2 percent, an increase of 5.5 percent from the 87.7 percent in 2015. It was the only province to crack the 90 percent threshold.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) said that inequality in the education system stained the country’s conscience.
“It is tempting to interpret the modest improvement in the matric pass rate as a sign that we are moving in the right direction, particularly after last year’s precipitous five percent drop,” DA educational spokesperson Gavin Davis said.
“But to do so would be to ignore the most significant aspect of the matric results, and that is the continued poor performance in the big three provinces of the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, which obtained 59.3 percent, 62.5 percent and 66.4 percent respectively.”
He said that it was “tragic” that two decades after the end of Apartheid, a child’s scholastic success was still determined by the province they live in and which school they go to.
The DA also expressed concern that the mathematics achievement has “flat lined”.
“The pass rate for Mathematics is only 51.1 percent (49.1 percent in 2015), and the rate for Maths Literacy has dropped for the fifth year in a row to 71.3 percent. It is still an open question whether the upward adjustments of the raw marks in mathematics, mathematical literacy and 26 other subjects led to an artificial inflation of the marks,” he said.
“We will be following up with the quality assurer, Umalusi, to make sure that the standardisation process was carried out correctly.”
Meanwhile, National Freedom Party Youth Movement welcomed the results and noted the improvement made in different provinces.
“We therefore call upon the Department of Higher Education to play it’s part to make it a point that all those learners who passed with bachelor certificate and who has applied for admission in universities do get the space as well as the necessary funding and also that the protest that might disrupt the academic calendar is avoided,” it said.
The National Teachers Union (NATU) welcomed the results and said it was a sign that educators were doing their level best to improve the education system and that pupils were working hard to advance themselves.
“NATU wants to congratulate all the teachers and their learners for their good work even though they are still working under terrible conditions in terms of infrastructure, resources and support – and (for the teachers) quite untenable employment conditions,” the union said.
“NATU wishes to call for the employment of more than one teacher for mathematics in one class and for the reduction of the class sizes so that teachers are enabled to give the required support and individualise the remedial work of all learners in the subjects where there is under-performance by learners. We also call for the consolidation of teacher development programmes nationally.”