Independent schools have also felt the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with a number of learners dropping out of matric. The Independent Examinations Board says some matric learners were so overwhelmed by the disruptions and the shift to online learning that they decided to take the year off; while others pushed through achieving multiple distinctions along the way.

The IEB matric pass rate is 98.07% this year slightly lower than last year’s pass rate of 98.82%.

In the video below is on the IEB class of 2020:

Meanwhile, two Johannesburg learners share their experience after achieving multiple distinctions.

“I am Sinazo Mthethwa from Saheti in Johannesburg; I am filled with so much excitement and so much joy that I passed matric with distinctions and I am so eager for the future. 2020 was a tough year to matriculate in. I would not have been able to do that without the support of teachers, parents and family.”

Sinazo obtained 8 distinctions including in Accounting, English, isiZulu, Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Advanced Programme Mathematics winning the Commendable Achiever Award.

She says she worked hard from the beginning of the year and is now due to study for Actuarial Science at the University of Cape Town.

Another high achiever is Kiara Kekana from Elkana House High School. She obtained 7 distinctions including in Maths and Science.

“I feel relieved. 2020 was a challenging year not just for me but for everyone; for being able to achieve results that I can look back and be proud of makes me over the moon. It was more about making myself proud and about what I was capable of achieving so looking at my results now I feel absolutely amazing.”

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A difficult year for the education system

2020 was not only difficult for individual matric learners but for the education system as a whole. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed gaps in the system even with independent schools.

The Independent Examinations Board says some schools could not make the shift to online education while better resourced schools forged ahead almost seamlessly.

IEB CEO, Anne Oberholzer, says many schools adopted distance learning methods.

“In some cases, they prepared weekly learning programmes for learners using textbook references and notes together with prepared exercises and tasks. These were emailed to learners where possible, physically delivered to or collected by learners and family members from the school. The completed tasks were returned to the school for marking and possible further teaching intervention if required.”

A handful of independent schools did close down while others barely survived. The situation for some was so bad that they called for a bailout from the government.

Oberholzer says individual learners also found it hard to adjust, she says many opted to drop out and pick up again in 2021.

Some also decided to reduce the number of subjects they would sit for this year. Oberholzer says however those who got to the finishing line should be commended.

“The excellent performance of the Class of 2020 under very difficult circumstances, underscores the importance of the years of good, solid teaching and learning prior to the Grade 12 year. These achievements are proof that the Grade 12 year on its own does not provide the understanding, perseverance and resilience needed to achieve excellent results in the matric year – but that is the culmination of work and learning over 12 or 13 years of quality schooling.”

88 percent of the matric learners obtained bachelor passes, 8.14% obtained diploma passes while 1.51% obtained certificate passes. 12 000 full-time and 1139 part-time candidates sat for their exams at 233 examination centres.

Matric results for public schools will be announced by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga on Monday, evening.