MIDRAND – The Class of 2016 has achieved an overall national pass rate of 76.2% in the 2016 National Senior Certificate (NSC) Examinations, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Wednesday, ahead of the release of matric results.

The Free State was the only province that broke the 90% threshold, with 93.2% pass rate. In second and third place was the Western Cape and Gauteng. (More details below.)

Conrad Strydom from Hermanus High in the Western Cape was revealed as South Africa’s top achiever. (See video below.)

This evening his school proudly posted a message on Facebook saying: “Truly outstanding! As a school and a community we can be so proud. Congratulations EVERY ONE! This is a team effort… Well done Conrad. Well done Hermanus High School! Hermies bo!!!”


This morning the school had been informed that Conrad was invited to attend the NSC Matric results in Joburg this evening, but at the time were “not aware why”. Along with other top students, he enjoyed breakfast this morning with Minister Matshekga.

After his award tonight, he said he was “honoured” and that it was all due to consistent “hard work”, and that he’d revised over weekends and holidays for years.

South African Matric Results for the Class of 2016

“The national pass rate without progressed learners is 76.2%. Well done to the Class of 2016,” said Minister Motshekga.

She said when including progressed learners, the figure was 72.5% — which represented 442 672 candidates who have passed the examinations.

Progressed learners are those pupils who fail the same grade twice and are then promoted to the next grade.

“For the past six years, we have noted that the NSC pass rate has consistently been above the 70% threshold.”

The Minister said the number of learners qualifying for admission to Bachelor studies is 162 374; the number passes with a Diploma is 179 619; the number of passes with Higher Certificates is 100 486; and the number of passes with NSC is 68.

Mathematics and Physical Science

She said performances in Mathematics and Physical Science, which are gateway subjects, have also shown an increase in the number of passes. 

The number of learners passing Mathematics at 30% and above, has increased from 129 481 in 2015 to 136 011 in 2016, while the number of learners passing Mathematics at 40% and above, increased from 84 297 in 2015 to 89 119 in 2016. 

On the other hand, the Minister said, the number of learners passing Physical Science at 30% and above, increased from 113 121 in 2015 to 119 467 in 2016; while the number of learners passing Physical Science at 40% and above, increased from 69 699 in 2015 to 76 044 in 2016.

Number of distinctions

“In 2016, a total of 158 160 distinctions were achieved. In the 12 key subjects (including Mathematics, Physical Science, Accounting, Economics, among others) the total number of distinctions increased from 63 348 in 2015 to 65 154 in 2016.”

She said about 6 576 distinctions were achieved for Accounting in 2016, compared to 5 820 in 2015; about 8 070 distinctions were achieved for Mathematics in 2016, compared to 7 791 in 2015; and about 7 043 distinctions achieved for Physical Science in 2016, compared to 5 903 in 2015.

Class of 2016

The Minister said the Class of 2016 is the ninth cohort of learners to sit for the NSC and third cohort to write CAPS-aligned NSC Examinations. 

“The Class of 2016 has recorded the highest enrolment of Grade 12 learners in the history of the basic education system in South Africa.

“The total number of candidates who registered for the November 2016 NSC examinations was 828 020, comprising 674 652 full-time candidates and 153 368 part-time candidates.

“Of these candidates, 610 178 and 107 793 full-time and part-time candidates respectively, wrote the 2016 NSC examinations.”

Provincial performance

The Minister commended the Free State Education MEC and his team for coming first place in the 2016 matric results.

She gave a glimpse of results captured without progressed learners. The Free State was the only province that broke the 90% threshold, with 93.2% pass rate. It was followed by the Western Cape with 87.7%, and Gauteng with 87%.

Gauteng was followed by the North West with 86.2%; Northern Cape with 82.2%; Mpumalanga with 81.3%; KwaZulu-Natal with 69.5%; Limpopo with 68.2%; and the Eastern Cape stood last with 63.3%.

The Minister commended the six provinces which recorded more than 80% pass marks.

With progressed learners

With progressed learners — those pupils who fail the same grade twice and are then promoted to the next grade — the Free State achieved 88.2%, up from 81.6% in 2015, which was an improvement of 6.6%. Western Cape followed with an achievement of 85.9%, from 84.7% in 2015, which is an improvement of 1.2% from 2015. 

The Western Cape was followed by Gauteng with an achievement of 85.1%, improving from 84.2% in 2015, which is an improvement of 0.9% from 2015. 

“We need to congratulate Gauteng for producing the largest number of Bachelor passes at 37 582.”

The North West achieved 82.5%, improving from 81.5% in 2015, an improvement of 1% from 2015. It was followed by Northern Cape, which achieved 78.7%, improving from 69.4% in 2015, an improvement of 9.3% from 2015, and Mpumalanga, which achieved 77.1%, dropping from 78.6% in 2015, a decrease of 1.5% from 2015.

KwaZulu-Natal achieved 66.4%, improving from 60.7% in 2015, an improvement of 5.7% from 2015; Limpopo achieved 62.5%, down from 65.9% in 2015, a decrease of 3.4% from 2015; and the least performer was the Eastern Cape, which achieved 59.3%, improving from 56.8% in 2015, an improvement of 2.5% from 2015. 

According to the Minister, there are a total of 2 361 distinctions (compared to 1 081 in 2015) attained by progressed learners, and these range from a total of 49 in Mathematics (up from 40 in 2015), to 53 in Physical Science (up from 30 in 2015), and 24 in Accounting (down from 31 in 2015).  These are the often difficult gateway subjects.

She said the Grade 12 examinations are not primarily designed to measure whether there is progress in the system as a whole, or even in individual schools. 

“The main purpose of these examinations is to provide learners with an exit qualification. 

“We however are able to also glean on the progress we are making as a country to provide an inclusive, quality and efficient basic education for our children,” said Minister Motshekga.

The results for private schools were announced last week, in what some called evidence that there is still inequality in economics and education.

Several South Africans took to Twitter to offer their opinions and words of encouragement for those getting their matric results tonight.

Some said “education is key to owning your future” while others said “don’t let poor results get you down… success comes with hard work, not marks”. One said: “If you fail matric, don’t kill yourself. A guy in SA never reached Grade 4 but he owns a house worth 230 million in Nkandla.”

On a serious note, Gareth Edwards tweeted: #MatricResults2016 – If you need counselling, you can request a social worker to contact you, dial *120*7867# for free from any cell phone.”

– Sources: SAnews.gov.za, Twitter and Hermanus High Facebook page.