Political parties have reacted differently to the Eastern Cape’s matric results, as the province once again scored the lowest mark in the country – 64.9% against the national pass rate of 78.2%, which was announced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. The Democratic Alliance (DA) said it was worrying that the province was the only one that scored less than 70%. “Although these statistics seem encouraging, the Eastern Cape is once again the worst performer in the country,” said Edmund van Vuuren, the DA’s education spokesperson. Most disconcerting, he said, was that the number of pupils who entered Grade 1 in 2002 had drastically dropped by the time the matrics wrote their exams last year. “Using the pass rate as the main yardstick to assess performance is simply not a credible measure of the quality of education in the Eastern Cape,” he said. The DA said in 2002 there were 284 283 pupils who entered Grade 1, 77 602 of whom reached Grade 12. “The problem with focusing on the pass rate is that it does not take into consideration the number of learners who drop out of the system before they write the National Senior Certificate examinations,” said Van Vuuren. He said that the department had dismally underperformed given that its own target was a pass rate of 70%. He called on Education MEC Mandla Makupula to account for the bad showing. When he announced the results today, Makupula chose to focus on the positive strides made by the province. Speaking to the media at the Sterling Leadership Institute in East London, he said there was still room for improvement and praised the province for being number five in terms of bachelor passes. The ANC Youth League in the province, on the other hand, “unreservedly” congratulated the class of 2013. “It is worth noting that the province has moved from 61.6% in 2012 to 64.9% in 2013. The 3,3% is a milestone to be noted and appreciated,” said the organisations’s provincial coordinator, Butsha Lali. The South African Communist Party (SACP) congratulated the department of education for the improvement in the pass rate. “This is the second year in a row wherein our province is registering an improvement ... we would like to commend roles played by both teachers and parents throughout this academic year,” said Siyabonga Mdodi, the SACP’s spokesperson in the Eastern Cape.