Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer has claimed her province achieved the top spot in what she calls the "real matric pass rate".
The Western Cape came third behind Gauteng and the Free State, with a pass rate of 81.5%, a decline from 84.4% in 2017.
But according to Schäfer "the 'real matric pass rate' factors in the retention rate".
"Our retention rate from Grades 10 to 12 is the highest in the country, at around 63%. Not a single other province managed to achieve over a 50% retention rate," Schäfer said in a statement on Friday.
Schäfer said the Western Cape government had consistently said, year-on-year, that when considering the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results, one had to consider the numbers of learners passing through the system and ultimately passing matric.
"We believe that retaining more learners in the system and giving them the opportunity to pass the NSC is more important than 'losing' learners along the way so that schools can achieve a higher pass rate," she said.
'League table' vs retention
"Therefore, when considering the NSC pass rate, it is important that we consider the retention of learners by comparing the number of learners enrolled for the NSC exams with the number of Grade 10 learners enrolled two years before that. This is known as the 'real matric pass rate'."
She said the results of the "real matric pass rate" for the 2018 NSC showed a very different ranking to that announced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday night.
According to her statistics, only 40% of the pupils who were in grade 10 in the Free State in 2016, wrote matric in 2018. That was the lowest percentage. Gauteng achieved the second best percentage, with 49.67%.
"It is disappointing that the national minister did not release the results calculated according to the Inclusive Basket of Criteria, which DBE has been using for the last two years unofficially, and which factors in other indicators of success such as Mathematics, Physical Science, and Bachelor passes, in addition to the retention of learners as described above," said Schäfer.
"We believe that this is a far more accurate representation of success than a 'league table'."
Quality of passes
She said that, after analysing some of the Department of Basic Education's data, it had become clear that the numbers of learners writing the multiple exam opportunity (MEO) had had a significant effect on the results.
"By removing these learners from the calculation, this will tend to inflate the pass rate, as they are the weaker learners that would have achieved at lower levels, or failed. My concern is that this could provide a perverse incentive to encourage learners who are weaker to write the MEO instead of the full exam," she said.
Schäfer said the Western Cape focused on the quality of the passes and the retention of as many learners as possible in the school system.
"I am therefore pleased that, yet again, our indicators of quality show a sustained improvement in the Western Cape."
The total percentage of candidates who passed matric had increased from 75.7% in 2009 to 81.5% in 2018 - an increase of 5.8%.
"I am especially proud that the Western Cape achieved an increase in the percentage of bachelor's passes, with 42.3% of learners achieving this quality pass. This is an increase of 3.2% from 2017, with an increase in the number of candidates achieving this from 19 101 in 2017 to 21 492 in 2018," said Schäfer.
Top in Mathematics
Since 2009, the Bachelor pass rate had increased from 31.9% to 42.3% - an increase of 10.4%.
- See our Matric Results Page
In Mathematics, the Western Cape again achieved the highest pass rate, increasing from 73.9% in 2017 to 76%.
The Maths pass rate increased from 64.9% in 2009 to 76% in 2018 – an increase of 11.1%
In Physical Sciences, the Western Cape achieved a pass rate of 79.5%, an increase from 72.0% in 2017.
The Science pass rate increased from 52.9% in 2009 to 79% in 2018 – an increase of 26.1%
Schäfer thanked all the school principals, teachers, school governing bodies and parents who supported the class of 2018.
She congratulated the 41 350 Western Cape learners who passed matric and also congratulated Gauteng on its top spot.
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