Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has announced that the 2014 national matric pass rate of 75.8% “sadly has a drop of 2.5 percentage point” from the previous year.
Only 28%, or precisely 150 752 of the 550 127 pupils wrote as full-time candidates, achieved university entrance passes. “We’re very proud of the class of 2014,” Motshekga said at the release of the results at the SABC on Monday evening.
Gauteng is the best performing province, with 84.7%. The economic hub province is followed by the North West, which achieved 84.6%.
“We must congratulate Gauteng, and say well done to MEC [Panyaza] Lesufi.” Lesufi worked for a long time as Motshekga’s spokesperson, and only became MEC in Gauteng after the May elections.
The Eastern Cape emerged as the worst performing province again, achieving 65.4% up from 64.9%of 2013.
Free State lost its 2013 spot as the number one province, dropping to third with 82.8%, down from 87.2%.
The Western Cape’s pass rate declined by almost 3%, but remained in the top four with 82.2% of its matrics completing.
But it’s KwaZulu-Natal that experienced the “steepest decline” by over 7%, Motshekga explained. Motshekga said her administration will implement a special intervention in the province.
The troubled Limpopo hasn’t done too bad either. Of the pupils who wrote matric in the province’s schools, 72.9% passed.
“We believe that Limpopo has to be congratulated for sustaining an upward trend. This is a group of learners that was affected by the delays in the delivery of textbooks [in 2012,” said Motshekga.
She also congratulated Mpumalanga. The province achieved 79%. The Northern Cape stands at 76.4%.
But Motshekga did not appear to be taken aback by the overall drop, and declared, “All [provinces] worked tirelessly and consistently”. “We believe there’s much more work that needs to be done.
“We believe that preparations for grade 12 start at grade R.”
The 2014 cohort started grade one in 2003. They numbered over a million in that year, meaning about half of them dropped out.
‘More to results than pass rate’
At a technical briefing that preceded Motshekga’s official announcement the department appeared determined to sway public debate from fixating on the national pass rate, and looking into the performance of basic education holistically.
“There’s more to results than just the pass rate,” Paddy Padayachee, acting director-general of the basic education department, pointed out while delivering the technical report.
“We need to congratulate our learners, irrespective of what their results will be, for completing 12 years of schooling. The national senior certificate is a high stakes exam,” said Padayachee.
Exactly 550 127 pupils wrote as full-time candidates, and 138 533 as part-time. Over 7-million scripts were marked.
“This is a major undertaking,” Padayachee said. “We need to proud of what we have done. The nation can be proud of those who have been working behind the scenes.”
Padayachee drew comparisons to 1970, when only 43 000 South Africans passed matric. “In 1990 we had 191 000, in 2009 it was standing at 334 718.
“We have grown under the leadership of minister Motshekga,” he said.
Maths pass rate dropped
The number of matrics who passed mathematics has dropped from 59.1% in 2013 to 53.5%. Only 3.2% – or 7 216 – matrics achieved distinctions in the critical subject.
Physical Science pass rate also took a dip, going from 67.4% in 2013 to 61.5%. Only 3.3% – or exactly 5 513 – of the matrics who took the subject achieved distinctions.
There are seven districts in the country that achieved pass rates below 60%. These are considered the worst performing districts.
With 57.1%, Padayachee declared Butterworth in the Eastern Cape the worst performing district.
Also referring to the technical report, Dr Rufus Poliah, Chief Director (Exams) in the Department of Basic Education said: “We’re providing you detailed information. We want to move away from just pass rates.”
Speaking at the ceremony, the SABC’s acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng showered Motshekga with praise. “Minister you did well, whether people passed or didn’t pass, you did well.”
Motsoeneng, controversial for getting his job even though he doesn’t have matric, said the matric certificate was very important to get ahead in life.