Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga with Deputy Minister Enver Surty pose as they celebrate with the 2016 top matric achievers. Picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/The Star

Johannesburg – The class of 2016 has succeeded in arresting the 5 percent matric pass rate decline experienced last year. The 2015 pass rate slipped to 70.7 percent, while 72.5 percent of the 610 178 full-time pupils passed their matric exams this year.

In Gauteng, the pass rate increased 1.1 percent to 87 percent with the Gauteng West district achieving 91.2 percent – the fourth-best performing district countrywide.

Of the 111 schools that achieved a 100 percent pass rate, Gauteng and the Western Cape – the top performer – had the highest number of schools at 31 and 32 respectively.

Read: #MatricResults2016: Pass rate improves to 72,5%

Also read: Matric results: Competition hots up between provinces

Gauteng saw a 36.2 percent bachelor’s degree pass rate, trailing the Western Cape, which achieved 40.9 percent. Speaking at Vodaworld in Midrand, Joburg, on Wednesday afternoon, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was cautiously optimistic about the results.

“We will be the first to concede that, despite the notable improvements in the system, we are yet to cross our own Rubicon. We must agree that much has been achieved, but much more needs to be done in the area of efficiency and quality,” she said.

“For the past six years, we have noted that the National Senior Certificate (NSC) pass rate has consistently been above the 70 percent threshold. The class of 2016 must be commended for maintaining this trend,” Motshekga added.

“They are the largest cohort in the history of basic education to sit for any NSC examination in the country.”

However, the increased pass rate has been met with mixed feelings by teacher unions.

In Midrand on Wednesday, National Teachers Union chairman Allan Thompson said he was satisfied with the increase in the pass rate.

Thompson said: “We are happy with the results compared to previous years. We are confident that educators are doing a lot of hard work that, on its own, suggests that there is a very strong teacher intervention required so that the methodology used to teach maths is up to scratch.”

But the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union(Sadtu), the biggest in the country, said the increase was not enough. The union wants a greater increase in university exemption passes.

Sadtu’s Mugwena Maluleke said: “Although we have seen an improvement, it is still insignificant. We are not worried about the overall average but the bachelor passes.”

Earlier in the day, Motshekga celebrated with the top 22 matriculants from across the country at the Vodaworld Midrand venue. Speaking to the pupils, she said: “This is the beginning, not a destination for you. We urge you to continue to lead our country. You proved you can.”

Despite unrest in the Vuwani area at the beginning of last year, leading to the closure and burning of schools for several weeks, and the exam paper leak in the Vhembe district, Limpopo has 12 of the best-performing matriculants in the country. Vhembe district achieved a 70.1 percent pass rate.

During the final exams last year, it was found that the two-exam maths papers were leaked. The principal of an independent school has since been arrested.

The department has said results for two schools in the Giyani area would not be released, pending investigations.

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The Star