Class of 2020 produces ‘quality passes’ — Motshekga

The 2020 matric class has seen a decline of 5.1 percentage points from the 81.3% pass rate achieved by the class of 2019. The class of 2020 recorded a 76.2% pass rate. 

The Free State remains the top-performing province, having achieved a 85.1% pass rate this year, but it experienced a decline of 3.2 percentage points from 2019, when it also occupied the number one spot.

This was revealed by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga at the release of the matric results in Pretoria on Monday afternoon. 

Motshekga congratulated the class of 2020 for their performance even though learners were faced with “monumental challenges”. More than one million learners wrote the national senior certificate last year.

Of these, 607 226 were full-time candidates, 117 808 were part-time, and the rest of the candidates comprised those who should have sat for the exam in June last year but did not because of Covid-19 restrictions. 


Motshekga also revealed that, of the top-ten performing districts, the top six are from Gauteng, with the rest from the Free State and the Western Cape. The top-performing district is Tshwane south, encompassing Arcadia Sunnyside, which held the same spot in 2019. 

Performance by province 

A decline in the pass rate was evident in all provinces, with the Northern Cape and North West recording the worst falls. 

  • Gauteng holds the number two spot at 83.8%, a decline of 3.5 percentage points from 2019;
  • The Western Cape is number three, having achieved 79.9%, a decline of 2.4 percentage points;
  • KwaZulu-Natal stands at number four at 77.6%, a decline of 3.7 percentage points;
  • The North West achieved 76.2%, recording a decline of 10.6 percentage points;
  • Mpumalanga achieved 73.7%, a decline of 6.6 percentage points;  
  • Limpopo achieved 68.2, with a decline of 5 percentage points; 
  • The Eastern Cape stood at number eight, having achieved 68.1%. and recording a decline of 8.3 percentage points; and
  • The Northern Cape recorded a 66 pass rate, with a decline of 10.5 percentage points.

However, there has been an increase of 13.3% in bachelor passes from 2019. This equates to more than 210 000 bachelor passes eligible for university.

Some 150 600 candidates passed with a diploma, which is an increase of 4.1% from 2019. The class of 2020 achieved 177 435 distinctions, an increase of 13.1% from 2019. The provinces that contributed the most to this growth are KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

Motshekga said that although the class of 2020 did not reach the 80% pass mark, it had shown resilience.

“We have achieved high-quality passes this year, especially the number of bachelor and diploma passes. The overall pass mark has improved. The distinctions are much higher this year, which is a hallmark of the performance of this class of 2020,” she said. 

“In terms of quality, we got more from this class than ever. We are of the strong view that had it not been for this virus, this class could have given us the best performance in the system. We are indeed proud of the class of 2020, which persevered against such monumental challenges that our system was never exposed to in the past,” she said. 

The minister thanked principals and teachers, whom she said gave of their time, even on weekends, for the class of 2020. She also thanked parents for standing with the department during difficult times. On Tuesday, provinces will release individual results to learners. 

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Bongekile Macupe
Bongekile Macupe is an education reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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