The pass rate for final-year pupils at public schools in South Africa rose to the highest since 2013, basic education minister Angie Motshekga said.
Of the approximately 800 800 students sitting for the exams late last year, 78.2% passed, Motshekga said on Thursday at an event in Midrand. That compares to 75.1% the previous year. About 312 700 people are eligible to study at higher-education facilities such as universities, she said.
Almost half of the children who enrolled in the first year of schooling in 2007 didn’t write the full-time tests, the Democratic Alliance said in an e-mailed statement.
While the pass rate has been over 70% every year since 2011, government still has some way to go to lift the quality of an education system that was ranked 114th out of 137 countries by the World Economic Forum in 2017, lagging behind the Democratic Republic of Congo and Turkey. The WEF’s Global Competitiveness Index report listed an inadequately educated workforce among key constraints for doing business in the country.
“The headline numbers look good but if you look at the broader data, which includes the number of people that started school, it is probably closer to 40%,” said Mike Schussler of Economists.co.za. “We’ve also lowered the requirements and are passing on problems to other levels of education, where people are not ready for university.”
South Africa spends about 15% of its budget on basic education, more than on any other expenditure item, but poor schooling outcomes continue to constrain an economy in which almost 28% of the labour force is unemployed.
“The problem worldwide is that when people finish school, they’re estimated to be semi-skilled but we don’t fully understand that and make an effort to develop those skills through technical colleges and trades,” said Schussler.
Of the 12 372 students at 249 private schools and testing centres who wrote papers set by the Independent Examination Board, 98.9% passed, compared to 98.8% in 2017. About 90.7% achieved a mark high enough to enter university, according to the board. — Reported by Prinesha Naidoo, (c) 2018 Bloomberg LP