Matric class of 2021 showed resilience, says Independent Examination Board chief executive

Under the difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic the Independent Examination Board class of 2021 achieved a marginal increase in the matric pass rate moving from 98% in 2020 to 98.39%. 

Out of the 12 857 full-time and 968 part-time candidates who wrote exams, 89.2% qualified to study towards a bachelor’s degree at university, 7.82% qualified to study towards a diploma, and 1.37% achieved entry to study for a higher certificate.

The IEB’s chief executive, Anne Oberholzer, said the increased pass rate was an indication of the resilience and dedication of the class of 2021, which had to adjust to a new way of learning in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Oberholzer said in a press release that the use of technology, which can no longer be ignored, has proven to be a valuable tool in classrooms.

The matric learners were in grade 11 when teaching and learning was interrupted and affected by the pandemic, and some learners also had to deal with the death of loved ones.

“On a far deeper level, for many the difficulties have been overwhelming and far more devastating. Learners lost family members and parents to Covid-19, parents and breadwinners lost their jobs and incomes due to a declining economy, and many learners fell victim to the scourge of domestic violence that amplified as lockdown and domestic financial stress grew. The impact of such tragedies on dedication to studies cannot be underestimated,” Oberholzer said.

She added that continued support and encouragement should be given to learners.

Dainfern College is one of the independent schools that received a 100% pass rate for both the independent board exams and the Cambridge A level curriculum. This is a record they have maintained for 21 years.

The Cambridge AS and A level programme is an optional curriculum offered to grade 11 and 12 learners, which the director of the programme, Joulia Karamichael, said enabled learners to keep up with the rest of the world.

“Our A level is equivalent to the first year of university and because we have students who want to study abroad, this programme allows our learners to compete at that level. We are in our fourth year of offering Cambridge studies and the performance just keeps on improving,” she said.

Karamichael added that adjusting to the changes brought by the pandemic had been a quick and seamless process because of the dedicated and supportive team of teachers who went the extra mile to assist learners as well as supportive parents who worked with the school.

Dainfern College matriculants achieved 117 distinctions and 96.55% of the learners qualified for university studies. 

With four distinctions and an average of 94.25% average across the four subjects, Hamza Mahmood is a top learner at the school and his sights are set on an Ivy League university in the United States or the United Kingdom.

He achieved an A in biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics in the school’s international Cambridge A level programme.

Mahmood said he had to work extra hard because of his desire to study abroad.

“I feel overjoyed and happy with the results that I achieved. I used past question papers as well as Khan Academy on YouTube. My mom has been supportive and I had supportive teachers who were always willing to assist whenever I needed help, but I think I also worked really hard to get these marks,” he said.

Along with serving on the 2020 leadership team, Mahmood was a Cambridge Dux scholar for AS level and for A level in 2021, which earned him academic honours and an academic medal. He also received the outstanding Cambridge learner award for attaining the highest mark in South Africa for AS level physics in 2020.

The top achiever has not decided on which engineering field of specialisation he will take. He will only know which university has accepted him in March or April.

Karamichael said: “We are exceptionally proud of Hamza and all of our learners. He is a testament of what a supportive team of teachers and parents can do for our learners.”

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Marcia Zali
Marcia Zali is an award winning journalist

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