Matric 2014 – Infinite Possibilities

Matric – Infinite Possibilities

The matric 2014 pass rate dropped by 2.4% in 2014 – less than the education experts predicted – to 75.8%. But this is just a small reflection of what really went on in late 2014. Of course, the usual stories of cheating have emerged, the bemoaning of the loss of students between grade 1 and grade 12 (in 2003 over 1.25 million students were registered to start grade 1 – only 532 860 actually wrote the final matric exam in 2014) and the stars who have really shone despite their difficult circumstances.

The top 5 districts (with a tie for 5th place) included 4 districts from Gauteng (including the one I grew up in – Johannesburg South, which also won the prize for most improved district) and 2 districts from the Western Cape. Gauteng West was the top district in the country and achieved a pass rate of 92.7%.

Of course, maths and physical science are of top concern for South Africa.

Of the 532 860 candidates that wrote the final exams, 225 458 of these students wrote mathematics. And of these students, 3.2% attained a distinction while 53.5% passed with 30% or more. 167 997 students wrote the physical sciences exam and 61.5% passed this exam, while 3.3% got an A. The Western Cape had the highest pass rate for both mathematics (73.9%) and physical sciences (70.7%). Gauteng had the highest pass rate for mathematical literacy with 93.7%.

Even when looking at the percentage of students who got more than 40% for their mathematics exam, the Western Cape was still top with 56.6%. The province with the lowest maths pass rate was Kwa-Zulu Natal with 40.7%. Kwa-Zulu Natal seems to have had a rough year in terms of results, as they also decreased the most in terms of the general pass rate by going down by 7.7%. This is quite discouraging as Kwa-Zulu Natal had the largest number of pupils writing matric finals (147 605 students).

At the Gauteng Awards ceremony on the 6th of January 2015, two students really shone.

Sigourney Lishman won the award for top student with an average of 95% and 9 distinctions. She attended Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool. Reginald Champala from Dr Harry Gwala Secondary School was another incredible story. He was certainly the crowd favourite with many standing ovations in honour of all that he has achieved. This shy young man managed to get 100% in four subjects – physical sciences, mathematics, geography and life sciences. He achieved 5 distinctions.

Reginald was also awarded the Dr. Harry Gwala award for achieving despite difficult circumstances. He lives with his single mother and 5 other siblings in a 2 roomed RDP house extended by a shack. His mom was also recognized for her dedication and commitment to her children’s education. Reginald’s university fees as he studies towards becoming a mathematics professor will be paid by the department of education. Reginald wants to become a maths professor so that he can give back to his community by helping future students study mathematics.

Considering that this was the first year of the new CAPS curriculum, schools and pupils have fared incredibly well. In 2009 the pass rate also dropped by 2% when the curriculum was changed over from the OBE syllabus to the NCS curriculum, comparable to the drop experienced now from the NCS curriculum to the CAPS syllabus. Of great importance is the improvement of mathematics marks around the country. Both students and teachers can access free mathematics and mathematical literacy content on the website www.mathsatsharp.co.za in order to help them reach their goals. The resources are all CAPS based and follow the order set out according to the CAPS documents.

It takes a village to raise a child,

and in line with this philosophy Seartec will be starting a project called the Seartec School of the Month. Every month a disadvantaged school will receive a class set of the latest SHARP EL535 scientific calculators as well as training on the calculators. Maths teachers will also receive a set of all the worksheets from the Maths at Sharp website (from grade 8 to 12 including exam papers for both mathematics and mathematical literacy).

Seartec would like to see many more talented students, like Reginald and Sigourney, achieve their full potential in mathematics. Here’s to the matric class of 2015 – may they reach the goals they set out to achieve and surpass them in every way.

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