Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that while her department was beginning to reach the required stability there were still stubborn inequalities that remained in the system.
The class of 2020 has achieved a 76.2 percent pass rate – this is a 5.1% decline from the previous year.
The Free State was the top-performing province, followed by Gauteng and the Western Cape.
Motshekga said that while government must be applauded for its pro-poor policies, there was still a great divide between rich and poor schools in South Africa.
“To close the gap between schools that are poor and schools that serve African communities, that’s what we’re working on.”
She applauded the class of 2020 who not only had to contend with long-term infrastructure backlogs but with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are so proud of you class for persevering against monumental challenges that no one was ever exposed to in the past.”
No fee schools produced 51% bachelor passes in 2019 – the Class of 2020 improved, achieving 58%.
The minister said that had it not been for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Class of 2020 could have been the best performers since the inception of the national senior certificate.
Motshekga said that the number of distinctions, bachelor and diploma passes were the hallmarks of the performance of the Class of 2020.
She said that the matriculants of 2020 held their own under difficult conditions and produced the most quality passes.
Motshekga said that the group demonstrated the resilience of the system which withstood administering exams under tough conditions.
Meanwhile, Parliament applauded the Class of 2020, saying that despite a decline in the pass rate from last year, they’d made the nation extremely proud.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has said that special praise should be given to mainly rural, township and no-fee paying schools, as they managed to overcome the 2020 academic year, particularly in the midst of their own challenges outside of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“These schools who suffer due to lack of resources were the hardest hit by COVID-19 as they had little or no access to blended learning opportunities and therefore could not continue learning from home during lockdown. When schools eventually opened, learners from these schools could not easily adjust to the new COVID-19 environment as their schools could not meet all the COVID-19 protocols,” Sadtu said.
The union has welcomed the announcement made by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga that the matric class of 2020 managed to achieve a 76.2 pass rate. For some this may not be such good news as this is a drop of 5.1 percentage points — from 81.3% in 2019.
Sadtu has also commended teachers at these schools for the matric results, adding that the achievement came at a huge price for them as they had to conduct catch up lessons even beyond school hours, to prepare the pupils for the exams.
“The current post provisioning model puts learners in poorer communities at a disadvantage. We therefore call for an equitable funding formula so that we can see poorer schools receiving more resources. Individual school needs should be taken into account when budgeting,” Sadtu further said.
The union has also called on government to provide a stimulus package for the education sector to mitigate against the effects of the pandemic and also provide resources in the poorly resourced schools.
“We can longer continue to normalise the situation of disparities that exist in our schooling system as it, in the long run, adversely affects the teachers as well as the learners who have to work overtime in order to achieve the results that can allow these learners to pursue tertiary education,” the union added.
The 2020 matric examinations were marred by the leaking of the Mathematics and Physical Sciences question papers. This prompted the Department of Basic Education to order a rewrite of both exams, however the decision was then reversed after Afriforum and Sadtu approached the courts.