South Africa’s official 2017 Matric pass rate of 75.1% does not tell the full story, the Democratic Alliance and Equal Education have said.
The pass rate ignores the large percentage of students who drop out before they write their matric exams.
In the past, Equal Education has said that the true pass rate can be measured by comparing the number of matrics who passed to the cohort of grade 2 school students who registered eleven years prior.
The Democratic Alliance opted for a cohort measure of grade 10 registrants who would become the class of 2017.
Analysts have said that both the grade 2 and grade 10 cohort pass rate measures offer additional insights into South Africa’s education system.
To see how the two measures compare, we plotted them against one another, against the official pass rate, and against a recalculated pass rate which considers all students who registered for Matric and not only those who wrote exams.
It should be noted that according to the Department of Basic Education’s latest Focus on Education report, grade 10 is the most repeated grade in South Africa.
In 2015, 20.4% of learners registered for grade 10 were repeating it. Grade 11 was the second-most repeated grade, with 15.6% of registered students repeating it.
Grade 8 and 9 were the only other grades with repeater percentages greater than 10% in 2015.
Official pass rates — overall, bachelor’s, and diploma
The following graph shows how the official pass rates, including degree and diploma passes, have changed since 2010.
Drop out rates
The following graph plots drop out rates in grade 2, 8, 10, and 12 from 2010 to 2017.
The grade 12 drop-out rate shows the difference between those who registered to write the final exams, and those who actually wrote the final exams.
Its significant rise over the past two years coincides with the “progression” policy implemented by the DBE in 2016.
Progressed learners are those who are over age, or have repeated grade 11 more than once and are pushed through to matric.
Over 104,000 learners were “progressed” in 2017.
Cohort pass rates
The following graph shows how the grade 2 and grade 10 cohort pass rates compare to the official pass rate.
It also shows the pass rate of all grade 12 learners who registered to take the matric finals, and not only those who wrote the exams.