Johannesburg - The matric pass rate in South Africa improved in 2012 with 73.9 percent of grade 12 pupils passing their final exams, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Wednesday.
“It really gives me great pleasure to announce that the pass rate for grade 12 in 2012 is 73.9 percent,” said Motshekga in Johannesburg.
This is an improvement on the 70.2 percent pass rate in 2011.
“Heartiest congratulations to the class of 2012, our born frees.”
Of the 623 897 students who wrote the national senior certificate exam, over 136 000 achieved results that qualified them to go to university. Another 135 000 achieved results that qualified them to attend other higher education institutions.
The number of students who passed mathematics rose from 46.3 percent in 2011, to 54 percent in 2012.
In science, 61.3 percent of the students passed, compared to 53.4 who did so in 2011.
Motshekga said in the ten main subjects, excluding languages and other minor subjects, 55 650 distinctions had been achieved.
In the provincial breakdown of marks, Gauteng had the highest pass rate at 83.9 percent, a 2.8 percent increase from its 2011 result.
Motshekga said while teaching was “severely disrupted” in the Northern Cape, camps were set up where students learnt and eventually wrote their exams. Those students that could not write, would have a chance to do so during supplementary exams.
Yet, this province in which many schools were closed for lengthy periods last year due to service delivery protests, in fact recorded the highest improve rate - 5.9 percent - in its passes.
A total of 74.6 percent of Northern Cape matriculants passed compared to 2011's 68.6 percent.
Motshekga said the Eastern Cape and Limpopo were both under national administration and therefore had been given “priority” support.
The Eastern Cape scored a 61.6 percent 2012 pass rate - up from its 2011 58.1 percent equivalant.
A total of 66.9 percent of Limpopo matric students passed - three percent more than in the class of 2011.
The Western Cape was the only province in the country that recorded a decline in its pass rate. There was a .1 percent difference in its 82.8 pass rate in 2012, compared to the 82.9 percent of Western Cape matrics that passed in 2011.
The Free State scored the second largest improvement as its pass rate was 81.1 percent in 2012, compared to 2011's 75.7.
Mpumalanga scored 70 percent in 2012, compared to 64.8 percent in 2011.
KwaZulu-Natal scored 73.1 percent in 2012, compared to 68.1 percent in 2011.
The North West improved from 77.8 percent in 2011 to 79.5 percent this year.
The national 2012 pass rate is a 13.3 percent leap from the 60.6 percent pass rate recorded in 2009.
Motshekga gave out messages to two different groups of the 2012 matriculants.
She said for those who excelled, “the world is your oyster”. She encouraged them to make their dreams come true and reminded than that “your country needs you”.
For those who did not achieve what they wanted in these exams, Motshekga said that they must “not lose heart”. There would be opportunities to improve these results or seek different options for the future.
“This is not the end of the world”.
Motshekga acknowledged some of the difficulties her department had faced last year, including the Limpopo textbook scandal and controversy over the stipulated percentages needed to pass a subject.
“2012 was a year and a half. Ask me about it! It was hectic year!”
While it was “indeed very unfortunate” that textbooks for certain grades had not been delivered until late in the year, Motshekga said grade 12 was not affected by this.
She also said teaching in other grades had continued.
Motshekga said people who suggested it was more difficult to pass matric during apartheid were wrong.
“I can assure South Africa it is far more difficult to pass matric now.”
Despite these issues, the department was “steadily and carefully taking this Titanic out of its troubled water”.
Motshekga said it was all systems go for 2013. “I think we are more ready than we have been before,” she said.
She wanted at least a 75 percent matric pass rate in 2013.
“It's cum laude next year.” - Sapa