Johannesburg – Once again, nearly all matrics who wrote the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) exams have passed with flying colours
A whopping 98.76% of learners who sat for the finals in 2017 aced them. This was a slight increase from the 98.67% achieved by the Class of 2016.
The elite private schools writing the IEB are famous for phenomenal performance each year. Their pass rate in 2015 was 98.30%.
A total of 12 160 learners sat for the exams at 212 affiliated schools last year. A majority wrote as full-time candidates and 666 as part-time.
While many of these schools are in South Africa, 14 are in Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland.
A whopping 88.5% of the IEB matriculants obtained passes that allow them to enrol for degrees at universities.
Just 8.96% qualified to study for diplomas and 1.30% to enrol for higher certificates.
“Just about all” the IEB schools achieved 100% passes, said Anne Oberholzer, the IEB’s chief executive. “There are very few that are not getting 100%. The quality of the passes has been good (too).”
Partly counting in the schools’ favour was that they were historically academically inclined, she said.
“The learners are keen to study hard because they want to go to university. The teachers know that, and so they do their very best to support them.
“We must always remember that children’s motivations are essentially established in the home; the kind of support and encouragement they get from their parents.”
Some parallels are usually drawn between the IEB and public school matric results, which Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga will release on Thursday.
But authorities warn against the comparisons, arguing that the number of matrics in public schools was just too vast.
A total of 802 636 candidates sat for matric in public schools, of which 634 527 were full-time candidates and 168 109 were part-time.
Teacher unions in public schools said the IEB results have lessons for the broader schooling system.
“Of course comparisons can’t be real. But the IEB results tell us that there are things that can make the system work.
“For one, the teacher-pupil ratio (in private schools) is far lower than the public school one,” Basil Manuel, executive director of the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA, told The Star.
“Teachers (there) are able to concentrate on every single child. The other thing is about resources.
“It’s clear that if you resource your schools well, you’ll get better results. Let’s congratulate the schools and learn from what is out there,” Manuel added.
Mugwena Maluleke, general secretary of the SA Democratic Teachers Union, said private schools enjoyed access to extra teachers and additional support teams.
“The schools are able to maintain low numbers in classes. The children get individual attention.
“They (IEB results) tell us about the socio-economic backgrounds of those learners and parents who can afford to buy education.”
Oberholzer said social inequality, also replicated in the schooling system, was a major problem in the country.
“To separate it out into private and public I think is blurring the issue. The issue is inequality. It’s got nothing to do with whether it’s public or private,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily just a race issue either. It’s an income issue or the financial support in the homes and schools.
“If you take top-performing state and IEB schools, they are comparable. There’s very little difference between them in terms of performance and results.
“For me the issue is how do we deal with the inequalities that exist between rural and urban schools, between the haves and have-nots.”
Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said IEB and public results could not be compared, even on the basis of resources and teacher complement.
“It’s not even that,” he said.
“Remember, private schools choose who to admit. If you didn’t perform well somewhere, they won’t take you.
“They take the best of the best and then keep the classes very small. In the public system we take everyone, irrespective of your circumstances and background.”