Each year, the celebratory attention paid to the matric pass rate is met with scepticism by education specialists in SA — and this year was no different. While experts do not deny that real improvements are evident in the basic education system, they point to the enormous challenges that remain. They say that focusing on the achievements of a few pupils at the apex of the system gives a distorted picture of what is going on below. In the view of Jonathan Jansen, professor in Stellenbosch University’s education department, this amounts to a "hoax". For 2018, the pass rate at public schools was 78.2%, up from 75.1% in 2017. Of the 512,735 pupils in public schools who wrote the matric exams — down from 534,484 in 2017 — 400,761 passed. Of these, 172,043, or 33.6%, achieved a bachelor pass, qualifying them to study for a degree at university; 141,700 (27.6%) obtained a diploma pass; 86,790 (16.9%) a higher certificate pass; and 99 a national senior certificate. The 2018 matric class ach...

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