Congratulatory messages poured in for the matric class of 2016 after the department of education announced the national senior certificate (NSC) class had achieved a pass rate of 72.5% – up from 70.7% in 2015.
The pass rate includes pupils who failed Grade 11 twice and were pushed through to Grade 12. Without the large cache of progressed pupils, the pass rate would have been 76.2%. The class of 2016 had 108 742 registered progressed pupils in it, an increase from 65 673 in 2015.
The ANC sent a special commendation to the Free State, the best-performing province with a pass rate of 93.2%.
“This achievement is no small feat, especially for a largely rural province which continues to struggle with disparities in terms of resources, skills and socioeconomic challenges,” it said.
There was also an increase in the number of Africans passing mathematics and science and a higher number of bachelors passes. However, the Democratic Alliance said that inequality in the education system was still a stain on 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 5% drop,” DA education spokesperson Gavin Davis said.
“But to do so would be to ignore the most significant aspect of the matric results – the continued poor performance in the big three provinces of Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, which obtained 59.3%, 62.5% and 66.4% respectively.”
It was “tragic” that two decades after the end of apartheid, scholastic success was still determined by the province pupils lived in and the school they went to, he added.
The DA also expressed concern that the mathematics achievement has “flatlined”. “The pass rate for mathematics is only 51.1% (49.1% in 2015), and the rate for maths literacy has dropped for the fifth year in a row to 71.3%.”
The National Freedom Party Youth Movement welcomed the improved results and called on the department of higher education to play its part to ensure all those with Bachelors passes who had applied to universities got places and the necessary funding The National Teachers Union said the results were a sign that teachers were doing their best to improve education and that pupils were working hard to advance themselves.
“Even though they are still working under terrible conditions in terms of infrastructure, resources and support – and [for the teachers], untenable employment conditions”.
The Congress of the People noted there were 2 316 distinctions and called for the development of a reading culture.
The EFF said: “These results should make the need for free higher education more urgent than ever if we are not to lose these young people into the same black hole that swallows those who drop out.”