President Cyril Ramaphosa greets supporters as he arrives at the Ellis Park stadium for the final election rally of the ruling party in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sunday May 5, 2019, ahead of South Africa's election on May 8. File Photo: AP Photo/Jerome Delay

Durban - President Cyril Ramaphosa has hailed the 81.3% matric pass rate achieved by the matric class of 2019. The pass rate was the highest since the advent of democracy in 1994. 

It was the first time the combined matric pass rate has breached the 80% threshold.

“These results are a triumph and a clear signal that government’s substantial investment in education, in pupil and teacher support and in educational infrastructure is yielding results,” said Ramaphosa. 

A total 787 717 candidates sat for the 2019 National Senior Certificate Examinations countrywide, with 409 906 candidates having passed. 

“South Africans can be proud that education, like most aspects of our nation’s development, is on an upward trajectory which should inspire all of us to work together to accelerate and maintain excellence,” the President said.

“There has also been an increase in the number of female learners achieving bachelor’s passes, the Eastern Cape recorded the highest improvement in the matric pass rate, and not one of the country’s 75 districts performed below 60% - these are stellar achievements,” Ramaphosa added.

The president said the increase in the matric pass rate for Quintile one, two and three schools (under-resourced and poor schools) was indicative that the divide between so-called ‘rich’ schools and poorer schools was steadily narrowing.

In announcing the results Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga pointed to the increase in specialised schools offering subjects like agricultural studies and maritime studies as well as the introduction of subjects such as entrepreneurship into the national curriculum.

“These are critical subjects that will enable us to meet the needs of our economy and prepare our young people for the workplace of the future: in this regard the Class of 2019 are pioneers,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa encouraged successful matriculants to take advantage of the diverse opportunities on offer in the higher education system as well as programmes for the development of entrepreneurship and self-employment.

“To the Class of 2019, you have done yourselves proud and returned the investment made in you by your families, teachers, communities and mentors,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa encouraged those who did not pass to use the Department of Basic Education’s Second Chance programme.

“Do not be discouraged, but courageously persevere towards your goals," said Ramaphosa. 

He said government would continue to provide support to learners to complete their education as well as to address weaknesses in the system that result in high numbers of learners who enter the education system in Grade 1 not completing their schooling.