KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday boasted a 35.7 percent surge in bachelor passes, with 47 202 matriculants qualifying to apply to university.
Another 42 760 achieved diploma qualifications, according to figures released this morning by the province’s head of education, Dr Nkosinathi Sishi.
“Overall the performance of KZN is pleasing,” he said at a media briefing.
Of the 145 278 who wrote the exam in KZN, 112 403 (77.4 percent) passed. The national pass rate was 78.2 percent.
Sishi emphasised that this was the largest group of matrics in the country. KZN had 6 241 schools writing, and those who wrote constituted 25 percent of the national total.
KZN had 34 779 bachelor passes in 2012, Sishi said.
“It’s not only the pass rate that’s important, but it is important to indicate the number of passes with bachelor and diploma passes.
“Further to this, the number writing matric has increased and generally when a system gets bigger it puts more pressure on the teachers (because of the teacher pupil ratio).”
Sishi said he wanted to recognise the teachers who had absorbed the extra pupils in the system but kept the upward trend.
KZN schools with a pass rate of less than 20 percent dropped from 34 to 25 schools. Schools with less than 40 percent pass dropped from 109 to 93.
There was an increase in the number of schools with 100 percent passes – from 106 to 116.
Maths had improved from 48.1 percent to 53.6 percent. He said the one paper pupils complained about most was Maths Paper 2, but despite the difficulty there was still a 5 percent increase and this should convince critics that something positive was happening in the education sector.
Science passes went up in KZN from 58.3 percent to 66.4 percent. Of those, 41.5 percent got 40 percent or more.
He said no education department could report a 66 percent pass in science and say it was satisfied.
“We are not happy and we feel we can do better. We know our children deserve better, but we are happy to see an improvement,” he said.
KZN had not performed well in commerce. Accounting only improving from 66 to 67 percent. And business studies improving from 85 to 86 percent.
“It’s time that the same focus that’s given to maths and science is given to the commercial subjects and this will be our commitment going forward.”
Last night it emerged that a KwaMashu orphan and an uMlazi pupil had taken national accolades in physical science and mathematics.
Sanele Mdlalose, a pupil at the Dr JL Dube High School, in KwaMashu, achieved eight distinctions and was placed third in the country for physical science.
Lwazi Shezi, of Velabahleke High School, in uMlazi, attained 10 distinctions, and third place nationally for mathematics.
Last night, at the Dr JL Dube High School, KZN Education MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni, heaped praise on matric pupils in the province.
Despite the province placing sixth in the country, Nkonyeni welcomed the 77.4 percent pass rate as “a very big achievement that should be celebrated”.
She said all the districts in KZN had obtained a pass rate of 60 percent and above.
Nkonyeni said the province’s performance should be measured in context to it having the highest number of pupils who sat for the exams last year.
“Some provinces have pupils who equal the number of one of our districts like uMlazi,” she said.
Nkonyeni was pleased with the 4 percent increment in the province’s pass rate, saying 80 was within reach.
She said intervention programmes put in place by her predecessor, Senzo Mchunu, had paid off.
Other government programmes, such as extending nutrition to many schools, had also contributed to some of the poor schools performing well.
“Providing nutrition at these schools also ensures that the learners are encouraged to continue attending their classes.”
The MEC said other stakeholders like principals, teachers and unions had a huge role to play.
“I am of the belief that when a principal lacks direction, the school will also lose direction.”
At the JL Dube High School last night, about 200 people – including teachers, pupils and parents – packed the school hall to show support for one of their own.
The crowd erupted in cheers every time Sanele’s face was beamed on the television screen.
Sanele’s brother, Thuthuka, said he and his siblings had expected his younger brother’s achievement.
“He is a very hard worker, he was always focused. Even on weekends he would attend the Saturday classes at UKZN,” he said.
“We learnt on Friday that he was one of the top achievers. We are so proud of him and will celebrate as soon as he arrives back in Durban.”
Thuthuka said Sanele’s strong religious grounding was also a major contributing factor to him doing exceptionally well in his studies. “He is not just somebody who goes to church but he is a born-again Christian.
“He is not somebody you will find fooling around with girls,” Thuthuka said.
The orphaned Sanele – his mother passed away in 2006 and his father the following year – lives in a church in KwaMashu. He plans to study actuarial science at the University of Cape Town.
Sanele said he had been confused when he got the call informing him he was one of the top achievers. He could not believe it.
He said he had worked extra hard throughout the year to ensure he passed well.
“It meant having to put one’s commitments aside and focusing on studies but it’s quite doable.”
He has praise for his aunt who he said had filled the void created when his parents died.
“She has been like a mother to me and she is the one who pushed me to work extra hard.”
Nkonyeni said she was touched to hear of Sanele’s background and pledged that her department would sponsor his tertiary studies. To those who did not perform well, Nkonyeni said all was not lost and she urged parents to support those pupils. “Let us not be hard on our kids because sometimes it is the pressure we exert on them which leads to suicides. We should be there to support them… the department has programmes to support them.”