South Africa’s ‘real’ 2018 matric pass rate is under 50%

 ·3 Jan 2019
Matric Certificate on table School

DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi says that the fanfare over the 78.2% matric pass rate for 2018 obscures the truth behind the result – that close to half of the children who started school with the class of 2018 didn’t make it.

“Nearly half the learners who enrolled in Grade 1 in 2007, didn’t write the full-time matric exams in 2018 as they were expected to. These learners are either stuck repeating grades or being lost to the education system completely,” she said.

Marchesi’s sentiments echo concerns raised by civil group Equal Education, which warned that the show around the release of the matric pass rate was “misleading fanfare”.

According to the group the truth of the matter is that a large portion of the learner cohort in school in grade 2 never makes it to matric – and the current pass rates obscure the fact that many of these children are left behind.

In fact, looking at the same cohort and where they were in grade 2 and again in grade 10, shows that the true pass rate in the country is around 40%.

“In contrast to the department of basic education’s (DBE) claim that the matric pass rate has consistently been above 70% over the past few years and that it is increasing, a look at the throughput rate suggests that the pass rate has actually been declining and ranges between 41% and 37%,” it said.

For the 2018 cohort, the education minister reported that approximately 512,700 full-time candidates, and 117,660 part-time candidates actually wrote all seven subjects of the 2018 NSC examinations.

While 630,360 wrote all seven subjects, 1,031,821 learners were part of the cohort in grade 2 in 2008 – thus over 170,000 learners who registered for the exams are yet to complete their NSC, and a further 230,000 were ‘lost’ somewhere along the way.

Extrapolating the data further, with 78.2% of learners passing the NSC exams (492,941), when weighed against the full cohort, this is closer to a ‘real’ pass rate of 47.8%.

The true pass rate isn’t exactly clear, however, with Equal Education noting that without access to more detailed data, this metric remains rather crude.

“It is affected by learners who repeat grades or leave school to attend technical and vocational education training (TVET) colleges.

“Nonetheless, detailed analysis released by the DBE itself suggests that when these factors are considered, the real pass rate still hovered just above 50% for the past couple of years – a far cry from the 70% plus pass rate touted by Minister Motshekga every year,” the group said.

Read: The truth about South Africa’s ‘misleading’ matric pass rates

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