SA matric results hide 'problems'

2014-01-09 10:02
Matric students gather at Muizenberg High School in Cape Town get their results. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Matric students gather at Muizenberg High School in Cape Town get their results. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


Grade 6 students outperform teachers in SA

2014-01-08 09:23

Education Expert and economist Nicholas Spaull says grade six urban students outperform the poorest 20% of teachers teaching grade six when it comes to mathematics content. Watch.WATCH

Cape Town - Despite the increase in the pass rate for South African matrics, the results hide a disturbing revelation when the subject data is analysed.

The class of 2013 improved on the pass mark from the year before, but there are significant gaps, particularly in knowledge of mathematics and science - key to expanding South Africa's technical capacity and innovation.

The improved pass mark of 78.2% may obfuscate the fact that analytical skills among the school leavers is lacking.

According to the department of basic education's NSC 2013 Diagnostic Report, maths skills in particular are poor despite the pass rate, and this has acute implications for achievement.

"Mathematical skills are a critical skills gap in many subjects, with predictable implications for learner achievement. Many reports in this publication attribute poor performance in such subjects to the poor mathematical skills of the candidates.

"Despite the improved pass rate in Mathematics and in Mathematical Literacy, the lack of foundational competencies in Mathematics remains a challenge across the board," the report says.

Science projects

The quality of the matric pass rate is widely held as a litmus test of the quality of South Africa education, yet few of the class of 2013 have scored a result that qualifies them for study at universities.

The department's NSC 2013 Technical Report shows that "171 755 learners qualify for Bachelor Studies at higher education institutions (30.6%) ".

In terms of subjects that are the drivers of technology like maths and physics, the pass rate increased from 61.3% in 2012 to 67.4% in 2013 for physics and 54% to 59.1% for maths.

The department of science and technology said that the key for South Africa's delivery of giant science projects like the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) was a healthy pool of maths and science school graduates that would continue the subjects at university level.

"The number of matric graduates in mathematics and physical science is important to the department and the science system in general, because it is from this pool that future scientists and researchers will come," Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom told News24.

He added that the low number of graduates could impact of the country's ability to produce high-level skills in the science fields.

"Informed by the understanding that a PhD is a driver of innovation and global competitiveness, the National Development Plan sets a production target of 100 doctoral graduates per million of the population by 2030, which translates to 5 000 PhDs per year from a base of 1 420 in 2010. The view is that more of these PhDs should be acquired in the fields of science, engineering and technology."


The department of basic education's own Diagnostic Report highlighted some of the critical shortcomings in maths education that impacts on the results in physics.

"There was evidence of poor mathematical skills and poor use of calculators contributing to the poor performance of some candidates."

The reports also says that while matric may be regarded as the finalisation of schooling, problems in maths were not only related to the Grade 12 curriculum.

"The algebraic skills of the learners are poor. They struggle with Mathematics in Grades 11 and 12 because they cannot do the basic mathematics of Grades 8, 9 and 10."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    derek hanekom  |  education  |  ska  |  technology

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


'Zuma's legacy will be judged by Nkandla'

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is contingent on how he deals with the issue of upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, says Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.


Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

DSTV Mobile iDrifta

The iDrifta is a plug and play mobile DVB-H receiver...

From R445.00

I'm shopping for:


You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.