Cape Town - Western Cape matrics have achieved an all-time high pass rate since the start of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) in 2008, exceeding all records and improving in all key areas of success.
Matrics in the province achieved a pass rate of 85.1 percent, up 2.3 percentage points from 82.8 percent in 2012.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced on Monday a national pass rate of 78.2 percent, up 4.3 percentage points from 73.9 percent in 2012.
The Western Cape slipped from its position as the second-best province to take the fourth spot behind Free State with 87.4 percent, North West with 87.2 percent and Gauteng with 87 percent.
Gauteng was last year’s best-performing province.
Motshekga said these results had exceeded atargeted 75 percent pass rate by 2014.
She pointed to a number of improvements, including the number of pupils who passed with access to bachelor degree study, as an indication of the success and quality of the system.
This had increased to 20.6 percent of pupils last year.
Motshekga congratulated the Class of 2013 as being “the best class since the advent of democracy”.
The records broken by Western Cape matrics included increased number of passes, increased number of candidates able to study at a university, improved numbers passing maths and science, and a decrease in the number of underperforming schools.
Education MEC Donald Grant said he was especially delighted to have exceeded the 2014 target of 40 000 passes as this indicated more pupils were able to write and pass the exam.
“We are very pleased that we exceeded our stretch target of 40 000 passes and that the pass rate increased while the number of candidates grew so significantly.”
Grant said this was the “highest number of passes ever achieved in the province since the inception of the NSC.
“Altogether, this year’s performance by the Western Cape Class of 2013 was a ‘class act’ and I am extremely proud of what they have achieved.
“I congratulate the candidates, educators, principals and district officials for a job well done.”
He said the Western Cape could be proud of its “credible and quality result” as it was the only province to test the competency of matric markers.
“We are confident that in the Western Cape there will continue to yield sustainable and credible improvements in the quality and quantity of passes in the years to come.”
Grant acknowledged there remained much to be done.
“We will continue to look at how we can best support our schools and learners and achieve lasting systemic improvements as per our strategic objectives.”
President Jacob Zuma congratulated the Class of 2013 for their achievements, calling them “the best matric class since 1994”.
“Education will take this country to prosperity… We are therefore pleased to note this consistently upward trend in the matric results.”
The DA questioned the credibility of the results.
“Using the pass rate as the main yardstick… is simply not a credible measure of the quality of education. This is a view shared by more and more education policy experts in our country.
“The problem with focusing on the pass rate is that it does not take into consideration the number of students who drop out of the system before they write the NSC examinations,” said Annette Lovemore, the DA’s basic education spokeswoman.