Keshav Maharaj, Ethan Naidoo, Sailin Vadivelu, Lydia Weber, Jodi Nobin and Santhani Rungan are top matric achievers who received more than 7 distinctions from different schools in Durban, KwaZulu Natal. Picture : Motshwari Mofokeng /African News Agency (ANA)
Keshav Maharaj, Ethan Naidoo, Sailin Vadivelu, Lydia Weber, Jodi Nobin and Santhani Rungan are top matric achievers who received more than 7 distinctions from different schools in Durban, KwaZulu Natal. Picture : Motshwari Mofokeng /African News Agency (ANA)

Class of 2020 praised for 76.2% pass rate despite Covid making schooling ’extremely’ difficult

By Chulumanco Mahamba Time of article published Feb 23, 2021

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Johannesburg - Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, said the matric class of 2020 proved that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going after the matric pupils obtained a 76.2% pass rate.

Motshekga announced the National Senior Certificate results for the class of 2020 yesterday.

She said they obtained the 76.2% pass rate despite the adversity faced by the pupils, compared with 81.3% in 2019 and 78.2% in 2018.

The minister added that more than 2 061 pupils with special needs sat for the exam, and that of those 2 058 passed. The minister added that 943 of the special needs matrics who passed obtained Bachelors, while 582 got diplomas, and 28 obtained National Higher Certificates.

“The director-general tells me that we had more Bachelors this year than we had in previous years. I think that means that when the going gets tough, people get tough themselves,” she said.

Basic Education director-general Mathanzima Mweli, while giving a technical briefing on the 2020 matric results earlier yesterday, said that 2020 was the most difficult year for the Class of 2020, which started school in 2009.

“There has been no year that presented the conditions and challenges of 2020,” he said.

The director-general added that innovation from school, distinct, provincial and national level was a big plus for the Class of 2020.

“The level of resilience was just amazing. The courage that we came across from these young people, from the teachers, from school management teams and principals. It gave one hope that even in the midst of near hopelessness there are people who are focused and determined to make things work,” Mweli said.

He added that last year the department had to combine the May/June exams with the November/December exams because the earlier exams could not be administered.

He said 2020 had the most candidates who wrote exams, including 2019 NSC candidates who wanted to write exams, the June 2020 exam candidates and part-time candidates amongst others, with about 1 million candidates.

The National Teachers’ Union (Natu) said in a statement that the Covid-19 pandemic and the declaration of the national State of Disaster had made schooling extremely difficult.

“Undoubtedly, Covid-19 was a game changer as it made normal schooling for the Class of 2020, as we had known it for a century, extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the four pillars of our education system: the parents, pupils, teachers, and the Education Department,” the union said.

Natu applauded the Department of Education for its management of the curriculum, however the union said the department did badly on the health and safety side with respect to sanitisation and social distancing in many schools.

“This meant that many pupils and teachers were left vulnerable to catching the Covid-19 – as many of them did,” the union said.

Natu said the union awaited the release of the matric results for the Class of 2020 with optimism and anticipated jubilation.

“The reason for this is that Natu is fully aware of the sacrifices, creativity, resilience, and sense of industry with which the pupils and teachers applied themselves to the emergent challenges of 2020 in order to cover the curriculum and adequately prepare for the final exams,” the union said.

Non-governmental organisation Equal Education (EE) saluted the Class of 2020, but said that the Covid-19 pandemic had threatened an already fragile education system.

“The Department of Education and provincial education departments introduced several interventions to support some learning from home while schools were closed, by providing printed workbooks as well as broadcasting lessons on radio and television. Despite these attempts, pupils from under-resourced households experienced greater barriers to accessing printed materials, online learning services, and other learning support,” EE said.

@Chulu_M

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The Star

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