Angie Motshekga congratulates N M Wiegman from Hermanus High School ,Western Cape at the special top matric lunch function held at Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksberg. Picture:Antoine de Ras, 02/01/2013

Cape Town - Western Cape matrics have broken records and improved on key indicators of success, cementing the province’s position as one of the top-performing provinces in the country.

The matrics achieved a pass rate of 82.8 percent, down 0.1 of a percentage point over the 2011 pass rate.

While the decline was slight, the Western Cape was the only province which saw a decrease in results. Gauteng reclaimed its title as the top province, achieving a pass rate of 83.9 percent, up from 81.1 percent in 2011.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Wednesday announced a national pass rate of 73.9 percent, up 3.7 percentage points from 70.2 percent in 2011. She said these results gave her “great pleasure”.

“This growth is very encouraging bearing in mind that when we came into office, we had put the targeted growth at 75 percent by 2014. Now at 73.9 percent our target is within reach. From this year, we will work even harder not only to sustain this growth but to push for an even higher pass rate, beyond 75 percent. Hearty congratulations to the Class of 2012, our born frees.”

Nita Wiegman, of Hermanus High, was present at the announcement of the results in Pretoria as one of the top achieving pupils in the country.

The records broken by Western Cape matrics included increased number of passes, increased number of candidates able to study at a university, improved numbers passing maths and science, and a decrease in the number of underperforming schools.

Nearly 4 000 more pupils passed the exam than in 2011 and an additional 1 000 passed with access to university study.

The all-important maths and science subjects saw significant increases, and the number of underperforming schools decreased from 30 in 2011 to 26 in 2012.

“An appropriate way to describe the results is that the Class of 2012 put on a ‘quality performance’, breaking records and improving on all our key indicators of success,” Education MEC Donald Grant said on Wednesday, announcing the results.

“Overall, I am satisfied with the 2012 results, especially given that last year’s cohort of learners has substantially increased in number from 2011 and that the examination papers, as described by Umalusi, were more cognitively demanding than before.”

Grant acknowledged there was still much to be done to improve education in the Western Cape. “We will continue to look at how we can best support our schools and learners, and achieve far-reaching systemic change,” he said.

“Examination results are not about numbers in isolation – they are about better life chances for our young people and a government which is prepared to support the improvement of these chances.”

He said: “I believe that further improvements can and will be achieved. We can already see improved outcomes in the other grades and the 2012 literacy and numeracy testing results, to be announced later this month, reflect these improvements.”

Motshekga said building blocks had been put in place to see continued improvements. “We’re encouraged by notable improvements in the education of children and society. Sustained improvements on matric results are a consequence of systemic interventions for strengthening and raising performance in all levels of the system.”

Mugwena Maluleke, general secretary of Sadtu, the largest teachers’ union in South Africa, welcomed the improvements. “They demonstrate a sustained improvement and the maturing of the system.”

Equal Education’s Doron Isaacs said: “Any improvement is a cause for celebration. We are cautiously welcoming these results.”

* Matrics will be able to collect their results from their schools on Thursday at noon. The Cape Times will publish a full list of results on Friday.

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Cape Times