The matric class of 2017 achieved a pass rate of 75.1%, which is up from 72.5% in 2016.
This means of the 802 431 pupils who sat for the matric exams last year 401 435 passed and 314 943 failed.
The 2017 matric results were announced by minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga, this evening in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.
Even though Free State dropped by 2.2% from last year, it retained its number one spot by being the best performing province and achieved 86%. Gauteng achieved 85% same from 2016 and the Western Cape declined by 3.2% from 2016 and scored 82.7%.
And even though the Eastern Cape and Limpopo saw some improvement in their results, they still remained the bottom two provinces. Eastern Cape achieved 65% an improvement of 5.7% from 2016 and Limpopo 65.6% up by 3.1% from 2016.
KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, North West and Mpumalanga achieved above 70%.
Of the number of pupils who passed, 153 610 achieved bachelor, 161 333 diploma and 86 265 higher certificates passes, and 161 081 distinctions were achieved.
The top two top performing provinces are in Free State namely Fezile Dabi which got 90.2% and Thabo Mafutsanyana with 90%. While seven other top performing provinces come from Gauteng and one from the Western Cape.
In 2013 the department introduced the progression policy, allowing for provinces to condone over-aged pupils who repeated Grade 11 more than once.
There were 34 011 progressed pupils who sat for the exams and 18 751 passed; 5.6% achieved bachelor passes and 1 801 passed with distinctions.
And there was an increase of 42.8% from 2016 of pupils with special education needs who wrote the exams — making it 2 777 and of this number 76.5% passed.
And 906 achieved bachelor passes and 789 diploma passes, while 1 956 passed with distinctions and the Western Cape accounted for 1 599 of the distinctions.
Motshekga also highlighted that no-fee schools had made their mark in the 2017 matric exams and out shown fee-paying schools by producing 76 300 bachelor passes compared to 67 867 from fee paying schools.
Motshekga said it was encouraging that pupils that came from schools with little resources were able to produced impressive results. Most no-fee schools are in rural and township schools.
Free State MEC of education, Tate Makgoe, said he was very happy with the results.
“You know the first time Free State came number one everybody thought it was luck, it was something that would never happen again.
“So I’m excited that we were number one in 2013, we were number one in 2016 and we were again number one in 2017. It shows that our system has gelled now, it shows that our parental support, our teacher support and the principal support in the schools including our own support as the department to schools is beginning to deliver results,” he said.
He said the results of the province also showed that pupils are committed and dedicated to their studies.
Makgoe also added that the continous achievements of the province must be a motivation to other small provinces that they might not have all the resources but if they are determined they can achieve anything.
“We have not been doing anything differently. I just do what needs to be done, many people say I’m hands on and this is what I do, I go to schools, motivate learners and mobilise society to support education and I think those are the basic things that we do. But at the end the most important thing is that you need to appoint good teachers, teachers who can teach the subjects such that learners understand,” he added.
Teacher unions also welcomed the 2017 matric results but said there were still areas that needed special focus to improve them.
General secretary of Sadtu, Mugwena Maluleke, said it was encouraging that rural provinces are improving as that has always been the concern of the union.
He, however, said schools in rural areas still need better resources and for teachers to get the necessary support.
Maluleke said the union was not happy about the number of bachelor passes because Sadtu believes that is where the quality needs to be measured.
“We need to put more effort to make sure that the number of bachelor passes can improve from the mere 28% to be at least 50% as we move on,” he said.
National Teachers Union deputy president, Allen Thompson , said the results were an indication that the system is starting to stabilise, but said the union was convinced that better results can still be achieved.
“This can happen if the department fills all the vacant teacher positions. If you can check the big three provinces: KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape , those provinces have failed dismally to fill all the vacant positions. They have a minimum of 2 000 vacant positions which means teachers are not getting the required support , which means teachers are overworked , which means we’ve got overcrowded classes because the department has failed to fill those vacant positions,” said Thompson, adding that once that is addressed the education system will upward results.
Basil Manuel of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation said the improvement was credible even though there were things that needed to be improved.
“It shows that we are not over extending and we are not simplifying things simply just to achieve. But very importantly to say to those who didn’t make it that there are opportunities , and one thing that the ministry must be acknowledged for is the second chance programme that many more learners are getting,” he said.
Pupils will receive their results in schools tomorrow.