The real matric pass rate for 2018 is 37.6%, not 78.2%, the Democratic Alliance said on Friday.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday announced a national pass rate of 78.2% in last year's National Senior Certificate examinations – a 3.1% increase from 2017.
The DA, however, said the adjusted pass rate was determined when including the total number of enrolled Grade 10 students in 2016 – who should now be in matric – compared to the total number who wrote and passed in 2018.
Of the 1 067 075 Grade 10s who were enrolled in 2016, only 512 735 wrote matric in 2018 – 48.1% of students – said DA MP Nomsa Marchesi in a statement.
"These Grade 10s should be celebrating with other matriculants, but more than half didn’t write matric in the expected timeframe. This means only 37.6% of these Grade 10s passed matric," Marchesi said.
Marchesi said other pupils had either become stuck in a "struggling education system repeating grades, or worse, dropped out of the system completely".
Celebrations by MECs 'a slap in the face' to pupils
"The 'real' matric pass rate for each province reveals a devastating reality: only the Western Cape managed to keep over 65% of its 2016 Grade 10s in school and through to writing matric on time," she said.
Marchesi said the celebrations by the Gauteng and Free State education MECs were a "slap in the face" of pupils they had failed to serve along the way.
"In Gauteng, 45% of its Grade 10s in 2016 didn’t write matric," she said.
Calling for national investigation into 'culling'
Marchesi claimed the Free State had a well-known reputation of "culling" or intentionally keeping back learners to inflate pass marks.
"The DA has repeatedly called for a national investigation into 'culling', but Minister Angie Motshekga is not concerned," she said.
Marchesi said the Multiple Exam Opportunity (MEO) which some provinces relied on, was a worry, as it was unclear how many of those pupils would return to complete their exams in June 2019.
"The DA’s priority is clear: to ensure that learners get the best quality matric in the expected time frame, so that they can start their journey into further education and employment on time and in good stead," said Marchesi.