10 things you should know from the 2016 matric results

The 2016 matric results are out, and hundreds of thousands of pupils across the country have discovered their fate. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga released the results on Wednesday night, saying she was pleased with the results of the 2016 cohort. But what should we remember from this class?

1. This year’s matrics were the largest group in South African history to write the National Senior Certificate exam.
As many as 800 000 students wrote the 2016 NSC exam. In 2015, 799 306 learners wrote the exam. The number of candidates may have increased as a result of the department’s progression policy, which allows learners who failed Grade 11 twice to be promoted to matric. At least 108 000 students who sat the examinations were progressed learners, which is more than the number of pupils who were progressed in 2015.

2. Pass rate remains over 70%
The national pass rate for 2016 is 72.5% – an increase on the 2016 pass rate, which was 70.7%. The numbers show that the progression policy might not be as successful as the department hopes. Excluding progressed students, the national pass rate rose to 76.2% for 2016.

3. Free State is the province to beat
Excluding progressed learners, the Free State obtained the highest matric pass rate in the country with 93.2% of learners passing matric. The Western Cape was second-highest with a 87.7% pass rate, and Gauteng third at 87%.

4. Eastern Cape still struggling
The Eastern Cape remains the worst-performing province with a 63.3% pass rate in 2016. The province’s low pass rate is often explained by the poor infrastructure of schools, a lack of learning material and resources, and teachers who are not adequately trained.

5. More than 150 000 matriculants have done enough to get into university
A total of 151 830 pupils have obtained a bachelor’s pass. Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were the two provinces who had the highest number of bachelor’s passes.

6. 54% of matriculants come from the three poorest-performing provinces
These students come from KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape.

7. Limpopo shines

The province only obtained a 62% pass rate and its share of dire obstacles when schools were torched in Vuwani prior to local government elections. But the province produced 13 of the 25 national top achievers.

8. More than 40% of students dropped out before matric

This is according to basic education activist group Equal Education, whose research has shown that between 40% and 50% of pupils drop out before matric. The group says that the department’s focus on national matric results obscures the problems in the schooling system that lead students to drop out.

9. 18 schools have a 0% pass rate
And only 111 schools achieved a 100% matric pass rate.

10. Of 33 511 students who scored more than 60% for maths, 1 700 were black African students
In her speech, Motshekga said: “In 2016 1 700 black African learners achieved 60% or more for maths. This is a great improvement.”

Many, however, are worried that so few black African learners achieved more than 60%. Equal Education has said that closer attention needs to be paid to inequality and historical legacies and their impact.

Although congratulations and celebrations are in order for the hundreds of thousands of students who have passed matric, there’s no doubt that South Africa has a way to go yet towards giving learners the best possible opportunities.


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