The Western Cape Minister of Education, David Maynier, on Tuesday gathered parents, teachers, and the province's top achievers to celebrate the outstanding achievements of the Matric Class of 2023 at the National Senior Certificate Awards.
Maynier hailed the Matric pass rate of the Western Cape Class of 2023, despite facing numerous challenges throughout the year.
“After years of disrupted learning due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2023 we faced minibus taxi blockades and strikes, two major floods, and severe load shedding. Yet despite this, the Western Cape Class of 2023 increased the matric pass rate for the third year running to 81.54%,” said Maynier in a speech during the ceremony.
Furthermore, the Western Cape candidates excelled, with every one of the 50,520 successful candidates meeting the requirements for higher education.
Remarkably, 42.2% of candidates qualified with a bachelor's pass, the highest number ever recorded, enabling them to attend university. The Western Cape also achieved the top pass rates in critical subjects for the national and provincial economies, with 75.4% in mathematics and 82.2% in physical sciences.
Equally impressive was the increase in the retention rate, rising to 69.3%, showcasing the commitment of school staff, especially principals, who prioritise giving learners opportunities to pass rather than holding them back to improve pass rates.
“Getting both the pass rate and the retention rate to move in a positive direction is a difficult task, and our school staff, and particularly our principals, are making the choice to give more learners a shot at passing their matric exams instead of holding them back to improve their school pass rate,” said Maynier.
Maynier acknowledged that the province could drop the retention rate but that it “would result in fewer learners writing and passing their exams” as well as a greater risk of them dropping out entirely.
Maynier expressed his pleasure in showcasing the talents of the region's artists and musicians at this year's celebration, emphasising the significance of recognising not only academic achievements but also the broader contributions of students.
The province also took pride in producing the top candidate in the country, Melissa Müller from Rhenish Girls’ High School.
Müller not only secured the title of the top public school candidate but also emerged as the top Quintile 5 candidate and the leading mathematics candidate nationally—an outstanding accomplishment highlighting the consistent excellence of Western Cape candidates.
Five additional Western Cape learners received recognition at the national results function in Gauteng, showcasing the diverse talents within the province.
In his address, Maynier expressed delight at the increased recognition of learners with special needs, underscoring the government's commitment to improving access to quality education for all learners.
The minister outlined the new direction in education, emphasising the government's vision for quality education for every learner, in every classroom, and in every school in the Western Cape.
Despite facing significant budget constraints, Maynier reassured the audience that the Western Cape government would continue to fight for the necessary budget to deliver on their vision.
In a special message to the parents of matric learners, Minister Maynier recognized their role in supporting their children through thick and thin, acknowledging the unique anxiety that comes with being a parent of a matric learner.
Maynier expressed immense pride in the Matric Class of 2023, commending their commitment, hard work, and investment in their own futures. He urged them to hold onto their drive and determination, assuring them that their talents and abilities would play a crucial role in shaping the province's future.