Real matric pass rate is 54.6%

Issued by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
19 Jan 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP.

The DA wishes to congratulate the class of 2022 matriculants on passing their matric examinations. These learners had surmounted often-overwhelming challenges in the past three years to reach this milestone.

Not only did they have to suffer interrupted schooling due to the Covid-lockdowns and devastating floods, many of them also had to face increasingly difficult circumstances at home brought on by South Africa’s economic difficulties and continuous rolling blackouts.

We also wish to thank all the teachers that went the extra mile to ensure that learners had the best possible preparation for their examinations and the parents for their support and encouragement.

And while the DA disputes the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) pass rate of 80.1%, we are very proud of each and every matric that successfully graduated. We also urge those that did not do well to not give up, the current outcome does not determine their destiny.

The real 2022 matric pass rate is only 54.6%, an increase from 2021’s 50.4%. This is very concerning.

Every year the DA calculates the real matric pass rate by bringing into account the number of learners that dropped out and never made it to matric. Some learners opt out of schooling at the end of grade 9 to pursue their education through technical and vocational education and training (TVET), but a large number simply stop their education entirely. To bring the TVET learners into account the DA calculates the real matric pass rate from the grade 10 cohort that ought to complete matric.

The dropout rate for the 2022 matric class is 31.8 % (337 364 learners). See the dropout rates per province here.

The Northern Cape had the highest dropout rate of 41.6%, followed by Free State with 40.6%, while the Western Cape had the lowest dropout rate of 27.6%.

The province with the highest pass rate was the Free State.

The Western Cape was the leader in distinctions with 6.2%.

What makes the national 45.4% fail rate and high dropout rate particularly concerning is that many of those learners contribute to the country’s staggering youth unemployment of 59.6% (6 in every 10 young South African is unemployed) – a little over 3.5 million youth are not in education, employment or any form of skills training.

Given the fact that the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, recently revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question from the DA that her Department has not established a system of tracking learners that exit the public schooling system and does not have information regarding learners’ further education or employment paths in line with outcome 3 and 4 of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework of DBE, means a high likelihood of learners joining the unemployment lines once they leave school, whether through dropping out or after graduation.

Minister Motshekga also admitted, “South Africa’s international rankings suggest that currently an even larger problem than dropping out is the levels of skills among youths who do succeed in obtaining the National Senior Certificate.”

Considering that the pass mark in some subjects is as low as 30%, only 38.4 % of matrics achieved a Bachelor’s degree pass – a shockingly low number when compared to the Independent Examination Board (IEB) Bachelor’s degree passes of 89.32%. In fact, all IEB candidates who passed (98.42%) qualified for entry to tertiary education.

Unless DBE addresses the twin issues of the high dropout rate and the ineffective curriculum offering that fails to fully develop knowledge and skills to access economic opportunities, the majority of matriculants’ future will be very limited. Not only does the curriculum have to be tailored with a determined focus on cultivating entrepreneurship and creativity to best cultivate citizens that will be able to create economic opportunities and prosperity, the failure to establish a strong literacy and numeracy base in the foundation phases sets learners up for failure and increases the likelihood of them dropping out at a later stage or achieve poor quality outcomes to access further education as we have seen in Matric results.

South Africa desperately needs more teachers that specialise in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

These give learners a sound basis for studies in a multitude of fields that will benefit them, but sadly, the average results show that quality education for every learner is an ideal that is yet to be reached. The DA will continue to highlight the crucial need for continuous professional development of teachers in line with an effective curriculum offering that will develop learners’ knowledge and skills, and we once again urge the Minister to seriously consider our suggestion of an independent school monitoring evaluation authority to evaluate and monitor teachers.

The remark by the DBE Director-General, Hubert Mathanzima Mweli, that the issue is not dropouts but a high failure rate, underscores the crucial need to upskill our teachers to ensure that all learners receive quality education.

The DA believes that every learner deserves the best possible chance to have a bright and dignified future. The high dropout rate and the country’s poor quality of education is the first of many obstructions hindering that ideal. It is time the Minister and her Department match the hard work of the learners they are meant to provide for. Hiding behind misleading pass rates will only cause more harm.

Like the 2022 matriculants, the Minister can look forward to receiving her own report card – courtesy of the DA – tomorrow, 20 January 2023.