A guide to understanding the real matric results

05 January 2018 - 12:22 By Katharine Child
Matric pupils writing their exams. File photo.
Matric pupils writing their exams. File photo.
Image: Shelley Christians

The National Senior Certificate (matric) results announcement was full of jargon and the Minister of Basic Education highlighted many positive aspects of the exams.

But what does the jargon mean and are the results as good as Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga claimed on Thursday? Here is a rundown of some of the technical terms.

What are progressed learners and are things are as good as Motshekga claims?

Progressed pupils are those who have failed twice‚ in either Grade 10 or Grade 11‚ and are pushed through into matric.

There were 107‚430 progressed learners in the class of 2017‚ with Motshekga saying the programme was introduced to "redress the inequalities" of the past. But only 34‚011 progressed learners managed to write all seven subjects and 18‚751 passed. This means 17.45% of progressed learners actually passed matric.

The minister noted that the progressed learners lowered the matric pass rate. Without progressed learners‚ the matric pass rate was 76.1%‚ higher than the actual pass mark of 75.1%.

There are 600‚000 pupils who dropped out between Grade 10 and 12.

Motshekga celebrated the fact that the second-highest number of progressed learners ever had written matric‚ but there was still a huge drop-out rate‚ said Basil Manuel‚ executive secretary of teachers' union Naptosa. The class of 2017 in Grade 10 had 1‚112‚004 pupils in the schooling system. In Grade 12‚ there were 534‚484 full-time students left who wrote matric. This means 48% of those Grade 10s actually made it to write matric.

As the Democratic Alliance noted‚ only 37% of those who were Grade 10 in 2015 had made it to matric and passed.

Stellenbosch academic and education economist Nic Spaull pointed out on Twitter that research shows less than 1% of those pupils who fail matric actually attain qualifications from further education and training colleges or similar institutions.

Only 13% of those who start school in Grade 1 will be able to apply for university entrance

Bachelor's passes allow students to apply for university. But of the 1.1 million pupils who started Grade 1 in 2006‚ only 153‚610 qualified for university entrance‚ meaning only 13% of pupils who started school 12 years ago actually achieved high enough marks to apply for university.

There are currently 208‚000 student vacancies at universities.

Quintile … what?

Motshekga spoke of the "quintile" system‚ noting that no-fee schools produced more than half of the matriculants' university passes‚ with quintile 4 and 5 schools producing 47% of them. What she didn't say was that there are far more no-fee schools (roughly 75% of schools) than fee schools‚ so it stands to reason that there would be a higher number of bachelor's passes from no-fee schools.

The quintile system ranks schools according to their infrastructure and location‚ ranging from quintile one to five.

Quintile 1 schools are the poorest and quintile 5 the wealthiest‚ usually former Model C schools. Quintiles 4 and 5 receive the smallest subsidies from government and quintiles 1 to 3 are no-fee schools and get slightly bigger subsidies‚ calculated per pupil.

The problem with the quintile system‚ academics have noted‚ is that schools in wealthier areas may have many poor pupils who can't pay fees. The system is therefore not based on pupils' economic circumstances.