Being "bad" with numbers does not mean you cannot get through school.

Last year's matric exam results showed that 41 pupils with dyscalculia – a number processing disorder – got their National Senior Certificate. 

The same goes for the 262 pupils with conditions such as autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit disorder, the 218 with dyslexia and the 1 138 who had unspecified learning difficulties. 

Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Education heard on Tuesday that 99 pupils whose assessment showed behavioural or psychological problems also wrote the exam and passed. 

"There were 1 119 distinctions from learners with special needs," said Dr Rufus Poliah – chief director for national assessment and public examinations.

Of the 3 051 pupils with special needs who wrote the National Senior Certificate exam last year, 1 669 got a bachelor's pass – which means they can study towards a degree or a diploma.

Forty-one pupils with hearing loss passed, as did 132 with a physical impairment, 76 with a special medical condition, 375 with speech and communication needs and 65 visually impaired pupils.

According to a department policy directive, the sooner these conditions are detected the better – preferably at foundation phase – so that pupils can get the support they need.

After an assessment by school and provincial committees, these pupils may qualify for additional support or concessions such as extra time when writing their exams. 

This could include reading exam questions to pupils who can only write phonetically (without the answer being hinted at) and ensuring the meaning of questions is understood (except for spelling tests). Other interventions include small breaks to take medicine. 

A total of 76.5% of special needs pupils passed their matric exams in 2018.