Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga applauded the hard work of all principals, teachers, parents and, most importantly, pupils of the Class of 2017, after the announcement of the matric results on Thursday.
Motshekga announced that the overall pass rate with progressed learners had increased by 2.6% from the previous year, to 75.1%. The overall pass rate, with progressed learners excluded, went up by 0.3% to 76.5%.
"Fellow South Africans, we will be the first to concede that, despite the notable stability of and improvements in our system, we are yet to cross our own Rubicon. We must agree that much has been achieved, but much more needs to be done in the areas of efficiency and quality," Motshekga said.
The Class of 2017
"Once again, I take off my hat to the Class of 2017, and I wish them the best in their future. I believe that you will continue to shine wherever you are," she said.
Motshekga said 161 081 distinctions were achieved by the 629 155 full-time matriculants and 173 276 part-time pupils.
She said the number of distinctions achieved went up by 1.8% compared to 2016, with KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape bagging the most distinctions.
Motshekga said 5 040 distinctions were achieved in Accounting, 6 726 in Mathematics and 7 861 in Physical Sciences.
"In celebrating the Class of 2017, I must also thank the principals, teachers, and parents for the work they continue to do," Motshekga said. "What you do at the school level, is what matters the most. The nation had put the future of our learners in your hands, and you delivered. We applaud you for the great work you continue to do on a daily basis," she said.
Motshekga also praised the "pro-poor" policies of government, which saw the gap between fee-paying schools and non-fee-paying schools shift.
"This is poignant, as it points to a remarkable shift in the balance of forces. From 2015 to date, greater equity was observed, despite the reality that inequalities still remain in the system," she said.
"Government must be applauded for its pro-poor polices, which in the basic education arena, alleviate poverty through a variety of interventions – among others, the pro-poor funding of schools; the provision of nutritious meals on a daily basis; and the provision of scholar transport to deserving learners on a daily basis," Motshekga said.
In a statement, President Jacob Zuma congratulated the Class of 2017, welcoming the matric pass rate increase.
"We welcome the fact that the pass rate has consistently improved since the democratic dispensation, especially since the reconfiguration of education into two separate departments, namely basic education on the one hand, and higher education and training on the other hand," Zuma said.
"This reaffirms government's focus on education as an apex priority and the greatest enabler of the society, as well as a key aspect of our programme of radical socio-economic transformation," he said.
"We encourage those who did not pass, that there are still plenty opportunities to be explored to fulfil their dreams. We wish to remind our matriculants of the many opportunities provided by Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and other vocational training centres across the country," he said.