Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has announced a matric pass rate of 72,5 percent, which was an improvement from 70,7 percent last year. This rate includes so-called "progressed learners".
Progressed learners are learners who have failed a grade for two consecutive years and are then promoted to the following grade. According to statistics released by the department, the number of progressed learners in 2016 increased significantly from 2015. Some 43,071 more learners were progressed in 2016.
The pass rate when excluding progressed learners was 76,2 percent for 2016, which was also an improvement on 2015's 74 percent pass rate.
The Free State was the top performing province, with an 88,2 percent pass rate, while the Eastern Cape was the poorest performing province, with a pass rate of 63,3 percent.
Motshekga said that the policy to promote learners who had failed grade 11 twice in a row and to offer them academic support through the matric year, had paid off. Of the 100,000 progressed pupils, over 3,000 got bachelor's degree passes.
"Failing learners does not help them. We need to instead support them in areas of weakness," she said.
"The significance of this achievement is that these learners would be high school dropouts if they had not been supported."
According to the department, more than 50 percent of matriculants obtained passes that will give them access to higher learning institutions.
"More than 50% of learners passed with the required standard to enable them to access higher education," said the department's Dr. Rufus Poliah at a technical briefing held ahead of the the education minister's on Wednesday night.
Gauteng was the leading provinces in terms of the number of Bachelor's passes, with 37,582 learners receiving Bachelor's passes.
However, there were also 18 schools that recorded a zero percent pass rate. Poliah said the department would demand answers from them.
There were also more than 60,000 enrolled pupils who did not sit for the examinations.
"Out of the 674 652 learners that registered, 64,474 didn't write exams. Out of that 64,000, 20,000 were absent for some reason," Poliah said. The balance would sit for multiple examinations over two years. -- Staff reporter and News24.