File picture: Independent Media

Durban - KwaZulu-Natal's MEC for Basic Education Mthandeni Dlungwana said on Friday morning that his was a "province on the rise".

Speaking at the provincial release of the 2017 matric results, at Durban's Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, Dlungwana said KZN had "turned a corner".

The province obtained a 72.8% pass rate in 2017. This marked a 6.4 percentage point increase from 2016's pass rate of 66.4%.

Dlungwana said "while the department was satisfied with the province's performance we acknowledge that we can do better".

A total of 124 317 candidates sat for the National Senior Certificate exams, in KZN, in 2017.

Dlungwana said on Friday that all the districts had bettered their 2016 performance but with 64.83%, Zululand had the lowest pass rate.

Umlazi and Pinetown both achieved pass rates of more than 75.%. And Umgungundlovu was the province's best performing district, with a 81.5% pass rate.

Addressing the controversial progression or "pushing through" of Grade 10 and 11 pupils to matric, the MEC said on Friday that the progressed pupils who wrote the 2017 matric exams in KZN had only affected the province's overall pass rate by less than 1%.

In 2016, the progressed pupils pulled the provincial pass rate down by more than 3 percentage points. The MEC also said the number of KZN schools with 100% pass rates was up. A total of 109 school achieved 100% pass rates in 2017. This compared to 85 schools, in 2016.

And only three schools got  0%  pass rates in 2017. In 2016, seven school had no matrics who passed.

The MEC said the department was still aiming for no zero pass schools and that his offices were this year "coming for" schools that had underperformed, in 2017.

Languages appear to be taking a back seat in KwaZulu-Natal, where the pass rates for most home and first additionl languages, were down, in 2017. This despite the province showing an improved overall pass rate. 

The pass rate for English first additional language took the biggest dive and dropped from 94.56%, in 2016, to 78.49%, in 2017. The pass rate for Afrikaans first additional language also decreased relatively dramatically - from 81.92%, in 2016, to 73.56%, in 2017.

The pass rate for Zulu home language was one of only three that were up. It rose slightly from 98.97%, in 2016, to 99.67%, in 2017. The pass rates for Xhosa and Siswati home languages also showed minor improvements. 

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Basic Education says it has identified challenges in a range of subjects, including English home laguage.

The other subjects the department singled out were accounting, agricultural sciences, business studies, dramatic arts and visual arts.

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The Mercury