Grade 8 2022 online admissions applications

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Matric results: Performance in Physical Sciences and Maths takes a dip

While the 2020 matric class achieved decent results overall, there has been a performance dip in Maths and Physical Sciences.

Grade 8 2022 online admissions applications

Photo: Unsplash

The class of 2020 matric results were released on Monday 22 February 2021 and while the learners appeared to perform decently overall, they did struggle with Maths and Physical Sciences. Still, we have to keep in mind that all of this did take place against the backdrop of an unprecedented pandemic. 


Department of Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that in 2009, the National Senior Certificate pass rate was 60% and 109 000 learners qualified for Bachelor admissions. In 2020, 76.2% of learners who wrote the National Senior Certificate examination passed and 210 820 of them achieved admission to Bachelor Studies. 

“Over the last 10 years, the pass rate has remained consistently over 70% since reaching this benchmark in 2011,” she said. 

The overall pass rate for the 2020 cohort represents a decrease of 5.1% from 81.3% in 2019. 

“Although there is [a] decrease in the pass percentage, there has been a notable increase in the number of learners that attained the National Senior Certificate,” she added. 


Basic Education Department director-general Mathanzima Mweli, while delivering a technical presentation on the 2020 matric results, said multiple times that the class of 2020 was a special class despite dips in certain subjects.

According to his presentation, Physical sciences saw a drop from 75.5% in 2019 to 65.8% in 2020, while the number of candidates passing maths took a dip from 54.6% to 53.8%.

Education Activist Hendrick Makaneta said the class of 2020 navigated a storm and should be congratulated for persevering against all odds.

“The poor performance in gateway subjects such as maths and science continues to be cause for concern. The DBE should come up with a turnaround strategy to improve the performance of learners in such subjects,” said Makaneta.

According to the Cape Times, National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) president Nkosiphendule Ntantala said the drop of more than 15 000 candidates that enrolled for pure maths was disturbing.

“Naptosa believes too many learners are allowed to stop taking pure maths in Grade10 in favour of math literacy. Is this about schools and PEDs (provincial education departments) chasing the 100% pass rate? What then about the life chances of these learners or even the future needs of the country? It’s important learners be given the maximum assistance to continue taking pure maths till Grade 12”.