110-from left: Basic education Minister Angie Motshekga and National overall best student Quintile 5 winner Andrew Tucker from SA College High School in the Western Cape and Deputy Minister of education Enver Surty at the 2015 Matric results announcement held at Vodaworld Midrand Johannesburg Picture:Dumisani Dube 05.01.2015

Cape Town - The Western Cape’s Class of 2015 is tops in the country – achieving a pass rate of 84.7 percent and setting new records in maths and physical science passes. Amid all the achievements one matriculant stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Andrew Tucker, from the South African College High School (SACS), was recognised as the country’s top achiever despite contracting Guillain–Barré Syndrome just a few months ago and not even knowing if he would be able to complete his matric.

According to mayoclinic.org Guillain–Barré Syndrome is a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves.

“He lost the ability to write and basically had to learn to walk again.

“There were many sessions of occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

“He was a fighter right from the beginning, from that very first day in ICU.

“We are so proud of him,” said his mother, Meghan Tucker.

Andrew, who has been a top achiever at SACS since Grade 8, said hearing his name called as the top matric achiever was “an absolute dream”.

“At the beginning of the year I didn’t even know if I would complete my matric.

“I don’t know what kept me going but it was something that comes from within.”

Andrew said he had considered studying business science this year but after his ordeal had decided to opt for medicine.

“What that doctor did for me I want to be able to do for others.”

Principal Kenneth Ball said Andrew was “phenomenally inspirational”.

MEC of Education Debbie Schäfer said the province could be proud of the improvements made in the quantity and quality of passes achieved.

While the national pass rate as well as the pass rates of every other province took a dip, the Western Cape’s pass rate increased by 2.5 percentage points from last year’s 82.2 percent.

The national pass rate for last year was 70.7 percent, compared with 75.8 percent in 2014.

Schäfer said the percentage of Western Cape matriculants earning passes that could gain them access to degree programmes had increased from 38.8 percent in 2014 to 41.7 percent last year, the highest in the country.

She said the province was particularly proud of the improvement in the retention rate.

The number of pupils remaining in school between Grade 10 and Grade 12 increased from 63.8 percent in 2014 to 66.8 percent last year.

“We place great emphasis on ensuring that we keep as many learners in the school system for as long as possible and that they get the opportunity to write and pass their National Senior Certificate.”

The province’s number of matriculants obtaining passes that could gain them access to diploma study increased from 14 573 in 2014 to 16 496 last year.

A record number of the provinces matriculants, 12 397 passed maths compared with 11 265 in 2014. The number of candidates passing physical science increased from 11 091 in 2014 to 12 026 last year.

The Overberg and the West Coast education districts were among the top districts in the country, achieving pass rates of 89.7 percent and 88.9 percent respectively

“While there is still much to be done in these areas, particularly in increasing those taking these subjects, we can be confident we are improving in the quantity and quality of these two critical subjects.”

Candidates will be able to collect their results at their schools at noon on Wednesday. The results will be published in the Cape Argus on Thursday.

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Cape Argus