Exceptionally high matric results in 2019 not a reflection of reality

AfriForum congratulates everyone who passed the matric exams of 2019 as well as the dedicated teachers who dutifully assisted them. At the same time, the news of an official pass rate of 81.3% has been met with concern. Although it is very high, it doesn’t give a complete and accurate reflection of the state of education in the country.

According to Carien Bloem, manager of education at AfriForum, the 2008 School Realities Report stated that there were 1 090 254 grade ones enrolled that year. Statistics released by the minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga today, show that only 616 754 learners registered for the 2019 matric exams. This means that more than 40% of learners of the 2008 group haven’t succeeded in getting as far as the matric exams, never mind pass it.

“When matric results are celebrated every year, the department focuses on the achievements of a few individuals and schools, while the young people who had become lost in the system are left without the necessary skills to make it in the very competitive job market. Referring to learners who received assistance in repeating matric doesn’t make it any better – it is concerning to realise that young people had to be in the school system for so long before they were able to receive meaningful help.”


“The high pass rate in every province creates the impression that there are a lot of young people available for further education and employment. It is however very far from the truth and many of these learners only succeed in passing matric because of the low pass requirements. They still don’t have the valuable reading, writing and comprehension skills that would make someone suitable for employment,” says Bloem.

Bloem emphasises that solutions could be found in

  • increased opportunities for mother tongue education;
  • decisive action against ideology-driven polarising comments and actions (such as those of Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi);
  • more efficient curriculum options;
  • timeous delivery of text books;
  • reigning in unions that debilitate the education process;
  • less negative interference with regards to parents and school governing bodies’ management rights;
  • the creation of more training opportunities for teachers; and

strong action to address the lack of discipline of learners and educators, as well as the safety and maintenance at schools.

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