Learners Culled To Inflate Matric Pass Rate, DA Demands Investigation

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The Democratic Alliance party has demanded for investigations into the ‘culling’ of learners to inflate the matric pass rate.

DA indicated that a close analysis of the 2016 matric results revealed a very high drop-out rate.

That, led to the speculation that some learners may have been ‘culled’ to inflate the matric pass rate.

Read Also: Over 100 Prisoners Passed Matric Exams

The opposition party cited the Department of Basic Education’s data which stipulated that 1 100 877 learners enrolled for Grade 10 in 2014, and that only 610 178 enrolled for Grade 12 in 2016.

That implies that 44.6% of learners either dropped out of the system or stuck in Grade 10 and 11.

DA offered the table below to represent the drop-out rate and buttress on how learners were culled to inflate pass rate.

Province Class of 2016
Grade 10 (2014) Grade 12 (2016) candidates Dropout rate (%) Total Gr 12 candidates passed “Real” Pass Rate (%)
Northern Cape 22 034 10 041 54,4 7 902 (78.7%) 35,9
North West 67 734 32 045 52,7 26 448 (82.5%) 39,0
Free State 55 293 26 786 51,6 23 629 (88.2%) 42,7
Eastern Cape 154 220 82 902 46,2 49 168 (59.3%) 31,9
Limpopo 189 170 101 807 46,2 63 595 (62.5%) 33,6
KwaZulu-Natal 264 816 147 648 44,2 98 032 (66.4%) 37,0
Mpumalanga 94 528 54 251 42,6 41 801 (77.1%) 44,2
Gauteng 174 471 103 829 40,5 88 381 (85.1%) 50,7
Western Cape 75 791 50 869 32,9 43 716 (86.0%) 57,7
National 1 100 877 610 178 44,6 442 672 (72.5%) 40,2

With the above, Maimane’s party said:

“It is possible to see from these figures how a fixation on the pass rate can mask the actual performance of the education system.

This is because the pass rate is expressed as a percentage of the learners who wrote, and doesn’t take into consideration the learners who didn’t make it to matric.

…We need to remember that it is possible for a school, district or province to push up their pass rate simply by ensuring that fewer weaker learners write the matric exams.



Take the Free State, for example. In 2014, there were 55 293 learners enrolled in Grade 10 in the Free State. But, in 2016, only 26 786 of those learners actually wrote matric.

If we look at the number of learners in the Free State who obtained a matric pass (23 629) and divide them by the number of learners who enrolled in Grade 10 in 2014, we can calculate a ‘real pass rate’ of 42,7%.

…Let us compare this with the Western Cape. In 2014, there were 75 791 learners enrolled in Grade 10. In 2016, 50 869 of those learners wrote matric and 43 716 passed. Using the same method as for the Free State above, we can calculate a ‘real pass rate’ for the Western Cape of 57,7%.

In other words, the Free State’s claim to be the best performing province (with a pass rate of 88,2% compared with the Western Cape’s 86,0%) is misleading.

Any assessment of performance must take into account the number of learners retained in the system. It is clear that, in the Free State, relatively fewer learners make it to matric, which is why the pass rate was high this year.”

Check Out: DA Wails Over Eastern Cape, Limpopo And KwaZulu-Natal Tragic Matric Results

Already, DA’s Gavin Davis – Shadow Minister of Basic Education – have written to Minister Angie Motshekga demanding an investigation into the high ‘drop-out’ rate.

Specifically, the party wants the minister to ascertain if it is the result of learners being ‘culled’ by schools under pressure from districts and provincial education departments.

Adding that the notion that learners may have been ‘culled’ in order to manipulate or ‘game’ the pass rate, has been raised numerous times in the past, DA charged Minister Motshekga to investigate what is behind the large drop-out rate without delay.

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