News and Opinions

Matric maths pass rate poses significant challenge for universities

  • The data suggests that the pool of matriculants who wrote mathematics is small and not strong.
  • Over the past five years significantly less than 50% of the matric final exam writers wrote mathematics as a subject.
  • Of the 11 top subjects, mathematics is consistently the lowest performing.
  • In 2018, out of a total of 270,516 mathematics writers, 37% passed with 40% and above. The percentage pass has been consistently between 30 and 35%.
  • Out of the total mathematics writers, 5828 passed with distinction (80% or above) which is only 2.6% of mathematics writers. -This creates a very small pool for universities
  • From this very small pool universities then compete to attract and retain this highly talented students. How well are they doing? Data collected on the past three years performance (2015-2017) of an entry level mathematics course in one of South Africa’s selective universities shows a sobering reality: those who come in with a National Senior Certificate mathematics mark of 90% and above pass the course (with an average mean of 64%). Those who entered with a score below 90%, fail the course.

 "South Africa’s Minister of Basic Education announced a 2018 matric pass rate of 78.2% in the first week of January as well as a number of other significant achievements. These are academic results of students in their final year of high school. The results are used to gauge the state of the country’s education system. Based on this performance, the argument is that South Africa’s education system is on the right track and making steady, if slow, progress.

Whether the country accepts this or not, the question that needs to be asked is what these matric results mean for higher education, and more importantly, for the future professions that top matriculants aspire to."

  • The data suggests that the pool of matriculants who wrote mathematics is small and not strong.
  • Over the past five years significantly less than 50% of the matric final exam writers wrote mathematics as a subject.
  • Of the 11 top subjects, mathematics is consistently the lowest performing.
  • In 2018, out of a total of 270,516 mathematics writers, 37% passed with 40% and above. The percentage pass has been consistently between 30 and 35%.
  • Out of the total mathematics writers, 5828 passed with distinction (80% or above) which is only 2.6% of mathematics writers. - This creates a very small pool for universities.
  • From this very small pool universities then compete to attract and retain this highly talented students. How well are they doing? Data collected on the past three years performance (2015-2017) of an entry level mathematics course in one of South Africa’s selective universities shows a sobering reality: those who come in with a National Senior Certificate mathematics mark of 90% and above pass the course (with an average mean of 64%). Those who entered with a score below 90%, fail the course.

Read more from the University of Cape Town news

Tags: Maths and Science

  • Created on .
THE KNOWLEDGE HUB IS A logo INITIATIVE. (C) 2017-2019.