Even though Gauteng fell two places short of being the top performing province to third place, the province has improved its pass rate from 83.9 percent in 2012 to 87 percent last year.
Speaking at the Sci-bono Discovery Centre in Newtown this morning, Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy said the province had also increased its bachelor pass rate.
“Gauteng achieved 17.42 percent more bachelor passes than in 2012, which means that 38 104 pupils have earned the right to apply for further education, up by 5 655 from a year ago,” she said.
Creecy said the Sedibeng East district was the province’s top performer with a 90 percent pass rate, up from 78.4 percent in 2012.
The Tshwane West district came in at No 2 with an 86.4 percent pass rate, an increase from 2012’s 77.4 percent.
“Particularly pleasing is the fact that all 15 education districts in Gauteng achieved a matric pass rate above 82 percent for the first time,” Creecy said.
She said last year’s pass rate showed that the gap between the performance of no-fee and fee-paying schools was decreasing.
In the meantime, there was joy this morning at various schools as pupils got their results.
At Sunward Park in Boksburg, Jennifer Rose Eloff looked at her eight distinctions and, strangely, felt underwhelmed.
“Congratulations, Jenny!” vice-principal Enoch Thango called from the office.
Jennifer smiled half-heartedly.
“I could have done better, hey,” she said, even though she achieved 92 percent in accounting, 87 percent in Afrikaans, 87 percent in maths paper 3, 83 percent in physical science, 80 percent in life sciences, but only 76 percent in English.
“It’s not what I expected,” she complained.
She asked Thango how to get the English paper re-marked. She felt good about that exam, better than 76 percent.
Not that it will even matter in a week’s time.
By then, she’ll be a Tukkies student studying medicine.
But it is the sort of standard the Sunward school had come to expect.
When the chairman of the school’s governing body, Vinay Somera, joined the school six years ago, its top pupils got maybe two or three distinctions.
That became five, then seven, then nine, then 10.
“We changed the school around completely,” said Somera. “It’s about strong management.
“There’s no rocket science about it. It’s about getting the best teachers and retaining them.”
In March last year, the school went digital, introducing wi-fi and tablets for all 1 200 pupils from Grades 8 to 12. Textbooks were a thing of the past.
“We took a very bold step,” said Thango. “And there’s no way we’d return to textbooks – there’s no going back now.”
Top achiever Nikisha Baijan, who was one of five Gauteng pupils to score 10 distinctions, said having all her study material on her tablet helped her stay organised while preparing for her exams.
This morning, she stared at her results in a kind of daze.
“Ninety-three percent in maths paper 3,” said fellow pupil Pryaska Monera pointing at Nikisha’s script. “How is that even possible?”
Her mom, Reshma, leaned in and kissed her daughter on the cheek. “I’m so proud and happy,” she said.
Nikisha smiled, sort of.
“It hasn’t really registered yet,” she said softly.
And across the lawn, Themba Sibusiso Xaba skipped to high-five groundsman Welcome Manana.
Themba had two distinctions and he was thrilled.
The girls at Jeppe High School arrived at 8am to fetch their national certificates.
Parked outside the gate with friends, Eva Trietsch felt relieved the day had arrived.
“I was freaking out and so nervous. Even though we knew we made it, all the hype got us nervous,” she said.
Her friend Thuli Lukheli plans to study sports psychology while Eva intends working in Durban before furthering her studies.
As parents and more pupils arrived, a sense of calm and happiness took over.
One father said his daughter had brought him along for moral support, but forgot all about him once she was reunited with her friends.
Up the road at their brother school, Jeppe High School for Boys, the mood was cool.
The boys picked up their certificates and posed for photos.
“These are the most genuine smiles we’ll ever give, trust me,” said Miguel Gibson.