By Mbulelo Baloyi

The provincial education department has expressed concern at the "glaringly obvious" absence of black matriculants in the province's top 10 pupils who passed the 2004 matric exams.

Acting CEO Themba Ndhlovu on Tuesday confirmed that it had been noted among senior education officials that most of the top 10 matriculants had emerged from mostly Indian and white schools.

The acting education department chief executive's remarks comes in the wake of concerns expressed by the KwaZulu-Natal Education Council chairperson Oscar Zondi at the poor showing by black pupils in last year's matric exams.

The council is a statutory body that advises the provincial Education Minister Ina Cronje.

"The department will be undertaking an analysis of the matric results as it has always been doing each and every year after the release of the results.

"This analysis will be looking at trends, the number of passes and the possible intervention programmes that could be implemented to remedy the situation," said Ndhlovu.

He said that these analytical exercises happen every year to help the department determine areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Earlier news reports had quoted Zondi suggesting that a mini-indaba be convened to look into the matter of "no showing" by black pupils in last year's matric exams.

Even schools that have always been known to produce top matric candidates in the past also failed to take even a single spot in the provincial top 10.

Such schools include the Mariannhill-based St Francis College, Mlokothwa High School in KwaNongoma, Inkamana High School in Vryheid and Pholela Institute in Bulwer.

Ndhlovu said there is no specific date for the proposed indaba that had been set aside yet.

"Obviously the department will be spearheading this analytical exercise working together with other structures," said Ndhlovu.