Matric pupils receive results

About 60,7% of matrics passed the 2009 exams — just less than 2% down from 2008, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Thursday.

Motshekga said while the downward shift was marginal, it was very disappointing.

In 2008, 62,5% of matrics passed.

“Saying we are unhappy is too mild. We’ve had sleepless nights and agonised.”

She said the department would put steps in place to ensure that results improved.

She said subjects like mathematics, physical science and accounting needed to be given more attention.

All results for all provinces, including Mpumalanga which had been embroiled in a paper leaking saga, were published and available to students.

On Monday, Umalusi had said it would delay the approval of the Mpumalanga results pending investigations. However, they were available on Thursday.

Dysfunctional schools
‘Between 80% and 90% of all the schools in South Africa can be labelled as dysfunctional,” said Jaco Deacon, operating officer of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools, which helps manage and oversee about 1 200 schools, according to Business Day.

Thursday’s results were down 2% from last year’s pass rate of 62,5%, continuing a trend of dropping pass rates. The national pass percentage for 2007 was 65,2%, which was 1,4% below the pass rate of 2006.

But the certificate itself is coming to mean less, with 2008’s matriculants — the first to complete the Outcomes Based Education (OBE) system — struggling in their first year of university.

A spokesperson for the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, told the Mail & Guardian that far more pupils qualified for automatic entry into the university in 2009 than was expected.

“The very large number of students who gained entry in 2009 included a significant number who were ill-prepared for university study,” said the spokesperson.

“There were also many students who through the new curriculum were better prepared for higher education. However the former group included some who struggled throughout the year.”

They were unable to release failure rates until supplementary exams were completed.

University entrance exam
University of the Free State rector Jonathan Jansen has argued in the Times for a single university-entrance examination and a similar entrance-test for colleges. “These examinations for university entrance could be held in June of the year preceding first-year studies,” he wrote. “Instantly, the corruption and incompetence falls away, and the stress and uncertainty ends for all students, especially those in Mpumalanga.”

Meanwhile, white pupils continued to outperform their black counterparts, 15 years after the end of apartheid.

Black Consciousness youth group, Blackwash, released an open letter to black grade 12 pupils of the 2009 year, informing them that most would fail.

“Township schools are still getting a type of Bantu education that results in very low pass rates amongst black learners,” wrote the group. “Most of the teachers in township schools were also educated under apartheid and do not have the necessary skills that white teachers have. And so the reality is that even though we now live at a time when blacks and whites are supposed to get equal opportunities, blacks who are in township schools have little opportunities or skills.”

  • Read the full letter here.

Education analyst Doron Isaacs, writing for Business Day, agreed. “For most young people, what they have — brains, dreams and determination — cannot make up for they were not given: textbooks, libraries, calculators and well-educated teachers,” said Isaacs, a coordinator of community education organisation, Equal Education.

“Matric is not a talent competition in which you get judged on self-taught brilliance,” he continued. “School is a marathon where everyone runs the same course and even the most gifted athlete, denied running shoes, a route map and hydration is easily passed by the club runner in soft Nikes sipping Powerade.”

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Verashni Pillay
Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.

Related stories


press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday