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

The department of education has released the overall matric pass rate figures for the class of 2016, announcing that the country’s overall pass was 72.5% – 1.8 points higher than 2015.

The department noted that the pass rate with progressed learners excluded (learners who failed a year twice in a row and were pushed through) was at 76.2%.

As in previous years, however, the matric pass rate announcement has been met with a degree of cynicism, with critics pointing out that the figure is largely irrelevant, and not at all reflect of the ‘true’ status of education in South Africa.

Notably, the pass rate only reflects the results of students who sat the 2016 National Senior Certificate exams – completely removed from the fact that over 40% of 2016 cohort never even made it is far as grade 12.

According to calculation done by MyBroadband, of the 1,081,652 grade 2 cohort class enrollment, only 668,612 students made it to the matric final exams. This is a dropout rate of 38.19%.

By this measure, the ‘true’ pass rate for the country is only around 45% – a far stretch from the 72.5% announced on Wednesday.

Political parties and activist groups have called on government to stop placing as much emphasis into the “superficial” matric pass rate, and rather address the growing crises in basic education.

More money should be spent on lower levels of education, ensuring work tools (textbooks, stationary, etc) and facilities are available to learners, and to address the issues that are preventing learner retention.

Despite the bleak reality of SA education, there was a lot of good news in the reported figures. According to the department, more than 50% of matriculants obtained passes that will give them access to higher learning institutions.

Further, the number of schools with a 100% pass rate has increased to 8% of all schools – up from 6.9% all schools in 2015.

Read: Matric pass rate obsession masks South Africa’s real education crisis

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