Cape Town - Education in South Africa is improving – and the Western Cape, which achieved nearly 20 000 Bachelor passes, is setting the standard, says Premier Helen Zille.
Zille hosted the province’s top achieving matriculants and school principals at the premier’s official residence in Leeuwenhof on Tuesday where she handed out awards for academic excellence.
She said the number of quality passes in the province had shown there was a significant improvement in the education system.
“I really believe that education is turning around and is beginning to show the results of the turnaround countrywide. “And so, while there has been a lot of questioning of the matric results, I believe the turnaround has begun.
“We in the Western Cape celebrate every educational improvement everywhere because it is good for South Africa. We do everything that we do because we want South Africa to succeed.”
Zille said after a week of debates over the legitimacy of the matric results and criticism of the 30 percent pass mark, it was important to celebrate the pupils’ success.
She urged matriculants to use their skills to improve the country.
Matrics in the province achieved a pass rate of 85.1 percent, coming fourth out of the nine provinces.
This was up from 82.8 percent in 2012.
But the province had achieved the most Bachelor passes of all the provinces.
Education MEC Donald Grant said on Tuesday pupils in the province had 19 477 Bachelor (university entrance) passes in 2013, up by 3 158 from 2012.
“While we can be proud that over 40 percent of our candidates achieved access to bachelor degree study, we know we can improve this result even further. Since 2009, the total number of candidates qualifying for a bachelors has steadily increased year on year from 14 324 in 2009 to 19 477 in 2013,” he said.
Grant said the class of 2013 had also achieved 22 208 distinctions, compared to the 19 264 of the previous year.
In blistering hot conditions, the pupils from numerous schools in the province accepted awards in individual subjects and overall honours accompanied by prize money.
Nicola Cilliers of Rustenburg High School for Girls in Rondebosch was honoured as the top achieving pupil in the province, while Lauren Gildenhuys from Wynberg Girls’ High School and Lauren Denny, also from Rustenburg, came second and third, respectively.
Gerben Draaijer of Paul Roos Gimnasium achieved a 100 percent pass mark in physical science and accounting and was recognised as the best in the province in both subjects.
Draaijer, 18, who will study towards a degree in actuarial science at Stellenbosch University, said going for jogs, cycling and taking many study breaks helped him while preparing for his final exams.
Samuel Wolski from Diocesan College received an award for excellence in mathematics after obtaining a 100 percent mark.
He said his formula was: “I just did the work.
“That’s the difference between getting 98 percent and 100 percent.”
Wolski urged the matrics of this year not to wait until the last minute before studying.
He plans to study applied mathematics this year at UCT.