Shocking drop-out rates: where in South Africa the fewest kids make it to matric

Closer analysis of the 2016 matric results has revealed that there is an extremely high rate of school pupils dropping out before reaching grade 12 – and the Democratic Alliance suspects foul play.

According to the party, there is some speculation that learners have been ‘culled’ ahead of the 2016 matric exams in a bid to inflate the matric pass rate. It has called for an investigation into the matter.

The Department of Basic Education’s figures, show that 1,100,877 learners enrolled for Grade 10 in 2014, but only 610,178 enrolled for Grade 12 in 2016 – showing an alarming rate of 44.6% of learners either dropping out of the system altogether or remaining stuck in Grade 10 and 11.

This pattern is visible across every province in the country, where the drop-out rate reaches as high as 54.4% in the Northern Cape.

The Free State, which took the title of the ‘best-performing’ province in the Matric exams saw more than half of its learners drop out between 2014 and 2015, which would make its ‘real’ pass rate far lower than the Western Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

Province Grade 10 (2014) Grade 12 (2016) Drop-out rate Grade 12 pass Pass rate ‘True’ pass rate
Northern Cape 22 034 10 041 54.4% 7 902 78.7% 35.9%
North West 67 734 32 045 52.7% 26 448 82.5% 39.0%
Free State 55 293 26 786 51.6% 23 629 88.2% 42.7%
Eastern Cape 154 220 82 902 46.2% 49 768 59.3% 31.9%
Limpopo 189 170 101 807 46.2% 63 595 62.5% 33.6%
KwaZulu Natal 264 816 147 648 44.2% 98 032 66.4% 37.0%
Mpumalanga 94 528 54 251 42.6% 41 801 77.1% 44.2%
Gauteng 174 471 103 829 40.5% 88 381 85.1% 50.7%
Western Cape 75 791 50 869 32.9% 43 716 86.0% 57.7%
South Africa 1 100 877 610 178 44.6% 442 672 72.5% 40.2%

“Because the pass rate is expressed as a percentage of the learners who wrote, it doesn’t take into consideration the learners who didn’t make it to matric,” the DA said.

“Any assessment of performance must take into account the number of learners retained in the system.”

It has been raised by many critics that the matric results are easily ‘gamed’, where schools may prejudice their own learners in order to attain a high pass rate. This would include cases where learners who submit a poor performance are kicked out of school, or held back so as not to bring down the general performance.

The DA has called for an investigation into the high drop-out rate, and to look into whether schools have been ‘culling’ students.


Read: Forget 72.5% – South Africa’s “true” 2016 matric pass rate is far worse

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