South Africa’s ‘real’ matric pass rate is under 55%

 ·20 Jan 2023

While the Department of Basic Education is celebrating the official 2022 matric pass rate of 80.1%, critics of the government’s methodology in determining the number are pushing what they call a more realistic figure.

The DBE announced the matric pass rate on Thursday evening (19 January), noting that 922,034 matrics registered to take the exams – of these 87% (725,146) were full-time candidates.

However, the department’s official pass rate does not factor in South Africa’s worryingly high drop-out rate, with the opposition party the Democratic Alliance reporting that the dropout rate for the class of 2022 was 31.8%.

In other words, 336,364 learners that would have been part of the class of 2022 were not, bringing the ‘real’ pass rate down significantly to 54.6%.

“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,” the DA said.

“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 ‘real’ 2022 matric pass rate is only 54.6%, and is an increase from 2021’s 50.4%, but remains very concerning, the party said.

Calculations done by MyBroadband put the figure even lower, at under 53%.

“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% – a little over 3.5 million youth are not in education, employment or any form of skills training,” the DA said.

“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.”

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,” the DA said.

Read: 2022 matric pass rate climbs to 80.1% in South Africa

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