Shocking school stats: this is how many South African students repeat a grade

 ·26 May 2018
Matric Certificate on table School

The South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) has released a new report on whether the current state-run school system aids or stunts the development of South African learners.

The report is based on data provided by the department of education, and questions the possibility of moving towards ‘community-led’ schools (in addition to current public and private school offerings), which are run by parents and members of the community instead of governmental workers.

“The data in this report shows that, among other things, only 33% of matric candidates ‘passed’ maths with a grade of 40% or higher; just 29.2% of schools have a library; only 18.3% of government schools have a science laboratory; and only 13% of the 2006 grade-1 class managed a university entry qualification when they wrote matric in 2017,” said the IRR’s Marius Roodt.


One of the key findings of the report was that as children advance through the school system, levels of grade repetition increase – particularly in the latter years of high school.

This indicates inadequate preparation in earlier years, the IRR said.

According to the data, grade 10 students are particularly at risk with over one in five students between 2009 and 2015 having to repeat the grade.

Poor maths and science results

The report also found that the number of children who wrote both maths and physical science in matric has declined over the better part of a decade.

“The proportion of candidates passing maths with a grade of 70% of higher has also declined (while it increased for science). Passing maths in matric remains a key marker of a person’s likelihood of living a middle class life,” the report said.

The IRR also noted that the ratio of maths literacy to maths pupils has changed over time in favour of the former – indicating a reduction in standards of maths education.

Read: SA school textbooks to be rewritten in new history curriculum

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