THE KZN Minister of Education, Mthandeni Dlungwane, said the department is ready for the matric finals. Dlungwane was speaking at Linpark High in Pietermaritzburg on Friday at the launch of the 50-day countdown to the matric finals, which begin on October 23 and finish on November 28.“Schools need to start revision now to ensure that pupils are totally prepared. Following the decline of the 2014 and 2015 pass rate we created an improvement programme in the province and in 2016 we achieved a 66% pass rate up from 60%. “We are not proud of these  results, but at least they showed a change on the graph. Our minimum target for this year is 76%. We will double our effort to ensure we succeed and reach the target we have set.” Dlungwane said they will be paying attention to underperforming schools and will mentor them. He said there is no reason why these schools should not perform as well as those who achieve good pass rates. “They should not continue as though they don't know what the target is. Come 5 January there will be no school that performs at 0%. Should such a thing happen there will be serious consequences for [its] management. Each school has a responsibility to contribute to this provincial target.”Dlungwane said they expect great results from the Class of 2017 especially in uMgungundlovu District as it has shown they can do it. “Last year this district was second in the province and this year we hope it will be number one. This world needs educated people. There is still time for them [pupils] to turn things around.“Study hard. It is not easy and you will not enjoy it. “You need to focus on your studies because some people focus on things that are not relevant. KZN Class of 2017 this is it, get on with it and know the province is behind you. “Give it your best shot." He said in a few weeks the department will hold a KZN prayer to “seek God’s intervention”.Dlungwane asked community leaders to assist underperforming schools by motivating them. He thanked teachers saying that as government they acknowledge the commitment of teachers towards their work and pupils.