Results for these subjects maybe cooked?


Solidarity’s School Support Center (SOS) asks serious questions about the 2023 matric results for history, geography and business studies, as significantly fewer Afrikaans learners achieved distinctions in these subjects this year than learners in English schools.

Schools in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape in particular – moreover often in townships – seem to have excelled in these subjects this year.

“Top performing Afrikaans schools question their learners’ inexplicably poor results in these subjects. These schools are annually among the top performers in terms of the number of distinctions per candidate in these subjects, but this year do not even appear on the list of top-20 schools for these subjects,” says the SOS’s matric report, which was released on Tuesday. “There is clearly a systemic error and learners are encouraged to have their papers re-marked.”

Hugo Vermeulen, head of training at the SOS, points out that only eight Afrikaans schools are among the top 100 schools, in terms of the number of distinctions per candidate for history. This list, which RNews reviewed, is dominated by schools from KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. Great English schools such as Herschel Girls School and Rustenburg Girls’ High School, both in the Western Cape, do appear among the top 10 schools.

The Afrikaans school which, according to the list, has performed the best in history is Bloemhof Hoër Meisieskool in Stellenbosch, which is 26th on the list. This school has reaped the tenth most distinctions for accounting and the third most for engineering graphics and design and is second on the list of schools nationwide, if all subjects are taken into account.

In terms of the number of distinctions per learner for business studies, only three of the top 20 schools are located in the Western Cape, one is in Gauteng and the rest are schools in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape. A total of 15 of the top 20 schools are located in townships.

This is in stark contrast to the list of top schools for maths, science, economics and accounting, which are mainly schools in wealthier neighborhoods in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Vermeulen thinks it is just too coincidental that the three provinces where the schools seem to have done the best in history, geography and business economics are those provinces where the ANC enjoys the most support.

“It is also a coincidence that these provinces have seen an almost 20% increase in their matric pass rate over the past seven years, while the Western Cape’s pass rate has dropped by 4.5%. How is this possible? This is clearly a political game.”

However, Paul Sauer, chief executive of the South African Teachers’ Union (SAOU), does not think that politics is the reason for these provinces’ success in the recent matric examinations.

“It is much easier to significantly improve a pass rate of 50% or 60%, than it is to improve on a pass rate of 80%. Teachers in this province realized that they had to take ownership to improve the results here and put in hard work to help especially the marginal figures to perform better.”

Nevertheless, says Vermeulen, the SOS especially questions the marking and moderation process in certain provinces.

Afrikaans schools are still doing excellently

Nevertheless, the SOS’s report shows that Afrikaans schools nationwide performed excellently again this year.

“Apart from all the dysfunctional elements in our education system and skepticism about the actual national pass rate, compare Afrikaans schools’ standard with that of top countries in the world,” says Leon Fourie, CEO of the SOS.

“This is thanks to parents who have an interest in the education of their children, governing bodies who apply good management practices, responsible school managements who are serious about their leadership, and vocation-driven teachers who tackle their educational task with zeal and go the extra mile with our children.”

According to the report, just over 85% of matriculants at Afrikaans schools passed the exam, slightly higher than the 82% nationally.

The percentage of learners in Afrikaans schools with admission to B degree studies is 7.3% higher than the national average of 40.9%. In addition, 29.6% of the learners in these schools achieved admission to diploma studies, while 13.7% qualified to register for a higher certificate. In both cases, this is an improvement on the previous year.

“This highlights the strong foundation that Afrikaans schools provide to empower learners to take up higher education opportunities,” the report states.