Matrics count down
With only 11 days until 620000 matriculants sit for their final exams, most provinces are confident of a satisfying number passing.
In Gauteng, Eastern Cape , Western Cape and Northern Cape, matrics have been attending extra classes to revise essential work and hopefully increase last year's 70.2% pass rate.
But in Limpopo, plagued by the non-delivery of textbooks and placed under national administration, some principals are worried their pupils will not make it.
Lawrence Seete, headmaster of Tubake Secondary School in Gompies, was concerned matrics would do as dismally as they had in the September preliminary exams.
"I doubt we will have good results this year . I am not happy with this year's crop."
The school was doing its best under trying conditions, he said.
"With physical science, our lab is standing empty without supplies and this has been a concern for years. How do you teach science optimally without practical demonstrations?" he said.
Education officials in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape were more optimistic, saying they had "pulled out all the stops" to give matrics a fair chance.
In the Western Cape, education department spokesman Bronagh Casey said it had met weaker schools to develop strategies to help underperforming pupils.
These included ensuring all matriculants had textbooks in the core six subjects, attended weekend classes and could watch broadcast lessons.
The department had distributed past exam papers and placed them in a Sunday newspaper in August. The province had tested many of its markers' competence.
In the Eastern Cape, where a shortage of teachers and their absenteeism hampered learning, education spokesman Malibongwe Mtima said arrangements would be made for pupils who felt they needed more assistance.
"A lot needed to be done . and we believe our pupils are prepared. It is mostly revision that is taking place now," he said.
The province obtained a 58.1% pass rate last year, the lowest in the country, but Mtima was confident this would improve: "We are aiming for at least 70% this year and we believe it can be done."
In the Northern Cape's John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality, where schools were brought to a standstill by protesters, revision camps have been organised. A pupil, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the extra tuition had been valuable.
"I'm not nervous. I am excited to write and I am confident that I will pass matric . But I don't want to just pass, I have to pass well because I want to become an agriculturalist," he said.
Education expert Graeme Bloch said: "The fact that the pupils made it as far as Grade 12 shows that they are more than capable of passing their exams.
''Pupils are prepared for [matric exams] from the time they are in Grade 10. What happens in this year should make no difference to their goals."