DBE hails 'resilient, dedicated' class of 2020 who got more bachelor passes despite pandemic

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Matric Class of 2020 positive learners will be allowed to write in isolated areas.
Matric Class of 2020 positive learners will be allowed to write in isolated areas.
Roger Sedres
  • While the pass rate has gone down, Covid-19 didn’t prevent the class of 2020 from outperforming their predecessors in many respects.
  • The class of 2020 had more candidates who wrote their final examinations than those in 2019.
  • More bachelor’s passes were attained last year than in 2019.

The class of 2020 has been described as a group of resilient and dedicated pupils who did it against all odds.

The class outperformed their predecessors who wrote the 2019 National Senior Certificate (NSC) in many respects.

“This is a special class,” said Director-General of the Basic Education Department, Mathanzima Mweli.

“The strength of [the] class of 2020, they had more pupils who wrote. They have a higher attendance rate in terms of candidates who wrote their examinations. They didn’t receive special treatment from standardisation and more pupils met the requirements of the NSC. More Bachelor’s pass[es] were attained than in 2019,” Mweli said.

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In 2020, 440 702 pupils passed. Mweli said 617 00 pupils registered for examinations in 2020 and 578 00 sat for exams.

There was a drop in part-time candidates with only 69 000 pupils writing instead of the 117 000 who registered. There was also a drop in some subjects.


“We are extremely worried by the drop in Mathematics. We are also concerned with drops in English, Geography and Life Sciences. We had a reduced number of progressed pupils in 2020.

“Learners with special education needs is [sic] a very important group, with 2 161 pupils who entered the examinations and 2 058 of them wrote. Out of 2 058 pupils with special education needs, 943 received bachelors, 582 attained diplomas and 204 received higher certificates and 28 attained NSC. Those who didn’t achieve are 14.

“There were about 105 521 active social grants recipients who wrote examinations. Active social grants recipients performed at 84% pass rate compared to those who are inactive social grant recipients.

“Boys receiving social grants outperformed girls which is unusual. Child support recipients are the highest at 73.6 [%] followed by care dependency at 71.5 [%] and 69.8 [%] foster care grant dependents,” Mweli said.  

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“The class of 2020 was not given special treatment by Umalusi. The decisions are less favourable to the class of 2020 than other classes,” said Mweli.

In terms of subject performances, the class of 2019 outperformed 2020.

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“Regarding the top districts, some provinces account for six out of 10 top districts. The other provinces account for three out of 10 and only one province account[s] for one district.

“Except for one province, all provinces have gone down with the number of distinctions. In terms of the 12 key subjects, distinctions went high. Distinctions obtained by progressed pupils in 2020 far exceed those obtained in 2019.”

The overall performance in juvenile centres is 86.3%.

About 133 juvenile inmates registered for examinations, 124 of them wrote and 71 attained bachelor’s passes.

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