Matric pupils write exams. File picture: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency Archives (ANA)
Private school learners have inched closer to the magical 100% pass rate following a stellar performance from the class of 2018 compared with the previous year.

The Independent Examination Board (IEB), which administers private-school assessments, has released its results which showed a 98.92% pass rate for this year’s matrics, up from 98.76% last year.

This comes amid Gauteng MEC Panyaza Lesufi’s public call for one national exam for matriculants, as opposed to the current system where public and private schools write different assessments.

A total of 12372 learners sat the IEB exams - 858 of whom were part-time candidates - which was an increase from 12160 in 2017.

There were 249 exam centres across southern Africa, which included candidates who sat the exams in 14 stations in Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland.

The IEB said all of its candidates who passed achieved marks which were good enough for entry into tertiary education:

90.65% achieved entry for degree study (up from 88.50% last year)

7.33% qualified to pursue diploma studies (down from 8.95% last year).

0.95% received entry for study at the higher certificate level (compared with 1.30% last year).

The IEB attributed its increase for entry to bachelor degree studies to the removal of designated studies.

“Previously, in addition to the normal pass requirements for the NSC (National Senior Certificate), the attainment of 50% or more in a minimum of four designated subjects was required for entry to degree study. In 2018, the list of designated subjects was removed.

“Learners must still get 50% for a minimum of four subjects. However, the 50% requirement can apply to any subject excluding life orientation,” the body explained.

IEB chief executive Anne Oberholzer argued that educators did the profession a disservice focusing narrowly on teaching and assessment as a process of achieving good exam results.

“Our responsibility as teachers is to provide children not just with knowledge and academic skills, but more importantly to draw on their innate curiosity to develop the softer skills of courage and perseverance” Oberholzer said.

Lesufi made his call for one national examinations body after quality-assurance body Umalusi said it had upwardly adjusted maths marks for IEB candidates, but kept the raw results for public school learners.

The MEC asked whether Umalusi’s action was “an admission that public education is starting to perform much better than private education.”

“We can’t, as a country, have different standards. Therefore, the call for a single examination for all our children is rational and urgent. There’s no university or workplace strictly for NSC learners (or) IEB learners. We treat them equally post schooling. Why write different exams?”

Oberholzer said yesterday that Lesufi’s proposal was a policy matter which she could not comment on.

SA Democratic Teachers Union general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said his organisation still had to deliberate on the single-exam issue, but backed Lesufi’s assertions that public schooling was performing well.

There were 796542 candidates who wrote the NSC exam, down from 802636 last year. The results were expected to be released tonight.