Western Cape: Errors won't affect matric exam results

The Western Cape says its pupils will receive their matric exam results in time. (David Harrison, M&G)

The Western Cape says its pupils will receive their matric exam results in time. (David Harrison, M&G)

The Western Cape says pupils would receive their results from noon on Thursday as scheduled, even though the national department of basic education misreported the aggregate numbers.

School principals in the province received the matric results for their schools at 8am as scheduled, the Western Cape education department said on Thursday, adding they would be releasing those results to pupils from noon.

"The results will be available on our website from 3pm," said Bronagh Casey, spokesperson for the province's education minister Donald Grant. "They will only be published in the newspapers on Friday, which may be where the confusion comes in."

Casey said it was standard practise for the province to first provide the results to principals under embargo so that they could identify any errors or identify candidates "who may be upset or distraught so we can arrange counselling".

The delay, compared to other provinces, who made results available on Wednesday morning, was entirely unrelated to errors in the aggregate figures published by the department of basic education on Wednesday, she said.

In a technical report published by the national department on Wednesday, the number of pupils who achieved a diploma-level pass is listed as 1 459. According to the provincial database, Casey said, that number was actually 14 602.

The error created a discrepancy of 13 141 for the provincial figures, which would mean that around a third of candidates would be affected. But by mid-morning on Thursday it seemed that the error would not affect the results reported to individual pupils, and did not impact the overall pass rate reported for the province. The Western Cape was the only province where the overall pass rate did not increase, recording a decline of just under 0.1%.

But the error does affect the analysis of the performance of the province. Using the published figures, the Western Cape fared quite poorly – shockingly so, compared to 2011 – at the higher levels of matric passes.

Using the apparently correct numbers, 69.2% of all candidates in the Western Cape achieved either a bachelor or diploma pass. That compares favourably with Gauteng, where the equivalent number is 70%; for the rest of the country that number ranges from 42.8% in the Eastern Cape to 63% in the Free State.

The technical report also contained errors on the number of matric pupils enrolled in Mpumalanga; the gender split for those who had passed in various provinces; and consistently misreported the percentage increases in both pass rates both nationally and for provinces.

The national education department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet

Phillip de Wet writes about politics, society, economics, and the areas where these collide. He has never been anything other than a journalist, though he has been involved in starting new newspapers, magazines and websites, a suspiciously large percentage of which are no longer in business. PGP fingerprint: CF74 7B0F F037 ACB9 779C 902B 793C 8781 4548 D165 Read more from Phillip de Wet

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