Of the 161 inmates who sat for matric exams in South Africa's correctional facilities, 133 passed, with some getting distinctions, Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola announced on Thursday.
"It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Grade 12 class of 2019 achieved a 82.6% pass rate," Lamola said in a speech prepared for delivery in Kimberley.
Of those who passed, 65 achieved bachelors passes and six of the Department of Correctional Services' schools registered a 100% pass rate.
The pass rate is up from the 77.3% achieved in 2018.
Stangoni Sandile, from the Usethubeni Youth Centre in KwaZulu-Natal, shone with a 76.7% average and four distinctions - English, Maths Literacy, Life Orientation and Tourism.
Second is Malwande Mandla, from the Cradock Prison School in the Eastern Cape. Malwande got 76.4%, with distinctions in isiXhosa, Life Orientation and Business Studies.
Hot on Malwande's heels is Ganto Lesthego Thamie, also from Cradock, with a 73.6% average and distinctions in isiXhosa and History.
"The Department of Correctional Services is proud to be part of a democratic system, which also offers offenders access to education," said Lamola.
There are 16 full-time correctional centre schools, which are run with the Department of Basic Education.
There were no irregularities during the exams, and they went off incident-free.
The facilities also make tertiary education possible, and courses are also on offer for skills like plastering, welding, plumbing, locksmithing, textile work and farming, so that offenders can find work when they are released.
The department has 19 textile workshops, 10 steel workshops, 10 wood workshops, nine bakeries, a locksmith workshop and a shoe factory.
The department has 40 000 hectares of land, made up of 21 big farms and 115 small farms which predominantly grow vegetables.
By the end of October 2019, 2 081 554 loaves of bread were produced from departmental bakeries, at an average cost of R5.12 per loaf.
Lamola expressed his gratitude to the class of 2019, and to their teachers, families and loved ones who supported them.
"You have made us proud, and we wish you the very best with your future studies and careers," he said.
The Independent Examinations Board's pass rate was 98.82, and the National Senior Certificate pass rate was 81.3%