The class of 2023, which was at the eye of the Covid-19 storm, has turned out to be the best-performing cohort of matrics, achieving the most distinctions and Bachelor’s since the advent of democracy.
This group produced an 82.9% pass rate compared with 80.1% the previous year, an improvement of 2.8%, said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday as she announced the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results.
The Western Cape once again produced not one but two overall top-performing matriculants in the country.
They were Melissa Muller from Rhenish Girls’ High School public school in Stellenbosch, and Ethan Myers from Herzlia High School, an independent school in Vredehoek.
The Free State was the best-performing province, achieving an 89.0% pass rate, followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 86.4%, Gauteng at 85.4%, North West at 81.6% and Western Cape with 81.5%.
A total of 253 807 distinctions were achieved, with KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Limpopo the main contributors towards passes with distinctions.
“This cohort was exposed to Covid-19 while they were in Grades 9 and 10 in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Thus, placing them at the eye of the Covid-19 storm.
“Their ability to cope during those extremely difficult academic and psycho-emotional draining years is the manifestation of their fortitude and burning desire to improve their future prospects.
“When expressed as a percentage, the pass rate of the 2023 NSC exams is the highest in the history of the NSC so far. Similarly, Bachelor passes as well as passes with distinction produced by the class of 2023 stand out as the highest in the history of NSC exams.
“There is no doubt that the Basic Education system has begun to reach the desired stability which is healthy for a large and important system such as ours,” said Motshekga.
The Western Cape topped quintile 5 as Muller took first place, followed by Jared Ryan Benn from Wynberg Boys’ High School.
Muller was the top maths candidate, and Benn clinched first place in physical science.
The province also shone in the South African Sign Language schools category, with Amahle Jemane from De la Bat School in Worcester taking second place. Samkelo Gumada from Athlone School for the Blind in Bellville was the top candidate in special needs education, while Nizibone Victor Mapolisa from the same school took third place.
“This is an incredible achievement considering the events of 2023, including a devastating minibus taxi strike and an illegal blockade of learner transport in Khayelitsha, two massive floods, and ongoing crippling load shedding.
We are especially pleased that our learners with special needs are being recognised for their incredible achievement, as improving access to quality education for learners with special needs is a key priority for our government,” said Education MEC David Maynier.
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) executive director Basil Manuel said the dedication and hard work of learners and teachers had undoubtedly contributed to the improvement in the pass rate.
He said Umalusi’s acceptance of the raw scores of 49 subjects and the approval for the release of the 2023 NSC results was also indicative of a maturing education system.
“Naptosa acknowledges the determination of DBE to ensure that learners complete Grade 12, hence it is reassuring to note that the through-put rate is slowly improving. Signs of gatekeeping to improve results in the NSC are, however, still evident in the system.
While it is fitting to congratulate the department, Naptosa notes that it is our teachers who deserve all the accolades. Teachers have achieved in sometimes challenging circumstances and have assisted learners with many hours of extra lessons with barely a break,” Manuel said.
Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Learning and Teaching co-ordinator Dr Dorothy Esau hailed the increased year-on-year result from a mere 60% in 2009 to 82.9% in 2023.
“It is indeed heart-warming to see how learners with special educational needs have progressed over the past few years and how they too are celebrated, how Bachelor’s passes have tripled since 2008 and the fact that the age cohort is gradually being corrected.
“Congratulations also to our learners in the Western Cape for achieving fifth place on the provincial board. They have proven their resilience, tenacity and fortitude and desire to improve the status quo in your families and communities.
“To the learners who did not make it now, please remember, this is not the end of the road for you. Special dispensations and policies have been put in place, such as the Second Chance Matric Programme,” she said.