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2017 Matric Results show an uphill climb from previous years

5 Jan 2018 EDUCATION

By Zuko Komisa

The 2017 matric results are officially out. This is a sigh of relief for many matriculants who are now entering the next stage of their lives, we look at what the results tell us about the state of education in South Africa.

Results Breakdown

Looking at this year’s provincial results you see that only one province (KwaZulu-Natal) managed to increase its results. The province also has the most pupils with distinctions.

Provincial results

  1. Free State attained 89.8%, a decline of 3.4% from 2016
  2. Gauteng attained 86%, a decline of 1% from 2016
  3. Western Cape attained 84.4%, a decline of 3.3% from 2016
  4. North West attained 82.1%, a decline of 4.1% from 2016
  5. Northern Cape attained 77.6%, a decline of 4.6% from 2016
  6. Mpumalanga attained 76.6%, a decline of 4.7% from 2016
  7. KwaZulu-Natal attained 73.6%, an increase of 4.1% from 2016
  8. Limpopo attained 67.4%, a decline of 0.8% from 2016
  9. Eastern Cape has come in the last place at Eastern Cape attained 65.8%,

The total number of candidates who registered for the November 2017 NSC examinations was 802,431; comprising 629,155 full-time candidates, and 173,276 part-time candidates. Of these candidates, 534,484 full-time candidates, and 117,223 part-time candidates wrote the 2017 NSC examinations.

A total of 153,610 candidates achieved Bachelor passes (equivalent to 28.7%); 161,333 passed with a Diploma (equivalent to 30.2%); 86,265 passed with Higher Certificates (equivalent to 16.1%) and 99 passed with a National Senior Certificate. These, of course, indicate which higher learning path the candidate is eligible to take.

Lost in the System

Despite the above-average results, it is fair to conclude that the South African education system continues to fail our learners not just in matric, but long before they reach the final years of school. Every year we see a decline in the number of students who started school in Grade 1 get lost in the system, making the drop out rate overwhelmily high in South Africa.

We appreciate and celebrate the results and there is very little emphasis is put on the learners who vanished over the years. Statistics show over 41% of the learners who had enrolled in Grade 10 in 2015 did not enlist for matric last year. This means that nearly half of Grade 10 learners are dropping out which is a huge dent in post-school education and the job market. This excludes students who are repeating grades and those doing vocational training.


The announcement of Free Education by President Jacob Zuma on the eve of his final day as President of the African National Congress gave many young South Africans hope and left many confused about how this new policy would be implemented . With over 400,000 of the 600,000 pupils who sat for the National Senior Certificate exams passing, one wonders how many of them will benefit from this ‘radical’ announcement.

The announcement has a huge impact on the banking sector that dishes out billions of rands in study loans every year. Close to 90,000 students are eligible to register at technical vocational education and training (Tvet)colleges. With the announcement by Universities South Africa (USAF) on Tuesday saying that there would be no walk-in applications accommodated from prospective students when registration opens for the 2018 academic year, one wonders what will unfold.

A pass at this stage for many matriculants means going back to the drawing board and evaluating your options.