THE 2020 matric pass rate has dropped to 76.2%, a 5.1% decrease from 81,3% in 2019.

This was announced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga at her offices in Tshwane on Monday.

She announced that the Free State is the highest performing province with an 85.1% pass rate.

It is followed by Gauteng as the second best performing province at 83.3%, with six out of the 10 best-performing districts from Gauteng, said Motshekga.

The Western Cape came third with a 79.9% pass rate, followed by KZN with 77,6%.

North West took fifth position with 76.2%, followed by Mpumalanga with a 73.7% pass rate.

Limpopo took the seventh spot with a pass rate of 68.2%, followed by Eastern Cape with 68.1% and the Northern Cape in the last spot with a pass rate of 66.6 %.

“The class of 2020 is the best performing overall regardless of the 5% drop. Their quality and standard is much higher. They showed more focus regardless of the pressure,” she said.

When addressing the exam leak scandal, she said Umalusi declared that there were no systemic irregularities that could have compromised the integrity of the results.

Motshekga reiterated the need for the general education certificate, “not as an exit to go home but to redirect pupils in the right direction”.

Motshekga said the department had the difficult task of ensuring they saved lives and the academic year while still keeping up with the NDP 2030 goals.

She said teams have been hard at work behind the scenes to give matrics a fighting chance.

“We wish to thank all societal formations that helped through a difficult year,” she said.

She said the number of candidates qualifying for admission to Bachelor studies is two hundred and ten thousand, eight hundred and twenty, an improvement of 13.3% from 2019.  

She said this represents 36.4% of the total number of candidates, who wrote the 2020 NSC exams;

"The number of candidates, who passed with a Diploma, is one hundred and fifty thousand, six hundred, an increase of 4.1% from 2019."

"The number of candidates, who passed with Higher Certificates is seventy-nine thousand, one hundred and seventeen an improvement of 0.2% from 2019," she said

The minister said they remain committed to an inclusive education system as it improves the quality of education and this leads to an inclusive economy that can help to bridge the gap between the rich and the poor.

Motshekga thanked everyone who never gave up during the challenging year.

“Special thanks to parents who played their part and educators, now it’s shoulder to the wheel for the Class of 2021,” she said.

The head of the department of the top-performing province,( Freestate), Advocate Tsoarelo Malakoane said they are proud of retaining the number 1 spot.

He said they owe this to hard work and dedication.

"We had a strong cohort and we aimed for 91% had it not been the Covid-19. But it's not about the position, we happy that we saved these learners".

Education analyst Hendrick Makaneta said the drop was expected because most of our township and rural areas schools are not as resourced as their IEB counterparts.