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THE national matric pass rate has increased for the second year running to 70.2 percent, up by 2.4 percent from 67.8 percent last year.
But the pass rate for KwaZulu-Natal was 68.1%, down from 70.7% in 2010, a decline of 2.6%.
Last night, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced the result while also honouring last year’s top achievers.
A total of 496 090 pupils wrote matric last year, with 348 117 passing.
Last year’s results also saw pupils who passed with a qualification for Bachelor’s studies increasing to 24.3 percent, from 23.5 percent last year.
Motshekga lauded the class of 2011, saying they had made the country proud as many of them had excelled despite facing challenges during their academic year.
She also lauded the quality of the examinations by her department, noting that they were incident-free without any reports of leakages of questions.
Last year’s results saw a significant increase across many provinces, with the Western Cape coming out tops with a pass rate of 82.9 percent, up from 76.8 in 2010.
Gauteng was the second best performing province with 81.1 percent, compared to 78.6 percent in 2010.
Mpumalanga, which has previously experienced problems, leaked papers and disarray in its education, recorded the largest improvement with a pass rate of 64.8, an eight percent increase from last year’s 56.8 percent pass rate.
Though these provinces were lauded for their improvements, the Eastern Cape was the weakest in terms of education in the country. The province managed a pass rateof only 58.1 percent with 11 of the worst performing districts located in that province.
Motshekga said that officials from her department would be deployed to those districts and other poorly performing districts in the country to address whatever challenges they are experiencing.
“By the end of the first term, they will report on credible plans to improve learner outcomes both in terms of quality of passes and the numbers going through.
“All schools are also expected to perform above the national average of 70 percent,” said Motshekga.
The total number of pupils who passed mathematics stands at 104 033 while 96 441 passed physical science.
Motshekga said this was a major concern, given the demand for these subjects in the country.
“We have set ambitious targets for these subjects. We are therefore pleased with improved performance in physical science.
“But we remain concerned about the number of passes in mathematics, 104 033 in 2011, which is less than the 124 749 of 2010.
“The pass rate for mathematics is 46.3 percent in 2011, a decline from 47.4 percent in 2010,” she said.
She added that the successive increase in the pass rate showed that the department was succeeding in arresting the decline that was occurring with the pass rate, but the quality of the passes was also a key performance area.
According to the minister, there was a strategy in place to increase the quality of education and the number of pupils who were passing matric and these would continue to be implemented in 2012.