Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga with one of the top performing pupils for the matric class of 2019. Picture: Kopano Thlapr/GCIS

Durban - The matric pass rate has reached an all time high of 81.3%, breaking the 80% barrier for the first time. 

A visibly chuffed Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga made the announcement during the release of the matric results in Midrand on Tuesday night. She even joked she would not mind leaving her post after breaking the 80% barrier for the first time in South Africa's democratic history. 

The 81.3% pass rate for the Class of 2019 was a 3.1 percentage point increase from the 78.2% achieved in the matric results for the Class of 2018. 

Bringing a ripe smile on Motshekga’s face, was the fact that all eight provinces improved their results for the Class of 2019, and no education district around the country performed below 60%. 

Only Gauteng saw a marginal decline in its provincial matric pass rate, but the same province had six of the Top 10 performing districts in the country. 

The improvement in results by province and district, drew loud applause at the Vodacom Dome in Midrand, where dignitaries and South Africa’s top pupils were present for the announcement. 

By province, eight provinces saw an improvement in their results,with the North West, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal showing significant growth of over 5% each respectively. 

But it was the Free State province which came out tops, with an 88.4% pass rate, followed by Gauteng with with 87.2% and the North West with 86.8%, rounding up the Top 3. 

The Western Cape province was fourth with 82.3% increases, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 81.3%, Mpumalanga with 80.3%, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape tied for 76.5%, while the Limpopo province was last, with 73.2%. 

Pass rate by province: 

  1. Free State 88.4%- 0.9% increase

  2. Gauteng 87.2% - 0.7% decline

  3. North West 86.8% - 5.6% increase

  4. Western Cape 82.3% - 0.8% increase

  5. KwaZulu-Natal 81.3% - 5.1% increase

  6. Mpumalanga 80.3%- 1.4% increase

  7. Eastern Cape 76.5% - 5.9% increase

  8. Northern Cape 76.5% - 3.2% increase

  9. Limpopo 73.2% - 3.8% increase

“We wish to commend Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, North West, Free State and Gauteng for maintaining their 80% performance status; and we must particularly applaud the Free State for reclaiming the top spot from Gauteng.  

“We also wish to applaud the Eastern Cape, North West and KwaZulu-Natal for the highest improvements in the 2019 NSC examinations,” said Motshekga.

Motshekga said a total of 409 906 candidates had passed the 2019 NSC examinations, meaning four out of every five pupils who sat for the exams, passed their examinations.  

"It is noteworthy that 45 districts - 1 in the Eastern Cape, 5 in the Free State, 15 districts in Gauteng, 7 in KwaZulu-Natal, 3 in Limpopo, 2 in Mpumalanga, 4 in the North West, 1 in the Northern Cape, and 7 in the Western Cape - performed at 80% and above," said Motshekga.  

In addition Motshekga said the number of candidates qualifying for admission to Bachelor studies stood at 186 058 – an improvement of 8% from 2018. This represented 36.9% of the total number of candidates, who wrote the 2019 NSC examinations, meaning almost four out of every 10 pupils who passed their exams, were legible for university degree studies this year.  

"By the way, the 2019 Bachelor passes in number and percentage, are the highest attained in the entire history of the NSC examinations," said a beaming Motshekga. 

Motshekga said since the inception of the NSC in 2008,  the basic education system had now produced a total of over 1.7 million Bachelor passes.  

"In order for us to meet the skills demands projected by the NDP, as a country, it may be necessary to track the whereabouts of these young people, and check on their current skills and employability profiles," said Motshekga . 

Regarding distinctions, she said more than 156 000 distinctions were achieved by the 2019 matric cohort. 

She said the main contributors towards passes with distinctions, were KwaZulu-Natal with 41 910; Gauteng with 37 422; Western Cape with 24 704; Eastern Cape with 15 745; and Limpopo with 13 312.  

"It is remarkable to note that the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo – the three most rural provinces in the country, produced a combined total of 70 967 distinctions, which is equivalent to 45.2%," said the minister to loud applause.

Motshekga congratulated the class of 2019 wishing them the best for their respective futures. 

" I believe that the Class of 2019 will continue to shine wherever they are. In celebrating the Class of 2019, I must also thank the principals, teachers, and parents for the work they continue to do.

“Schools are at the coalface of Basic Education delivery.  What you do at the school level, is what matters the most. The future of our learners, and the prosperity and further development of our nation, is in your hands.  We applaud you for the great work you continue to do on a daily basis."

IOL