Durban - After achieving an overall pass rate of 76.80%, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala Friday commended the province's Grade 12 class of 2021 for their resilience in the face of “disturbances and dislocation in post-apartheid South Africa”.
The Premier was speaking at the Anton Lembede School of Maths and Science in La Mercy, north of Durban, during the release of the 2021 matric results. He was joined by Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu, Durban Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and Director-General of KZN Dr Nonhlanhla Mkhize.
Zikalala also made special mention of learners in rural areas, townships, and informal settlements who had to work harder because of financial and geographical constraints in their areas.
Despite more than 144 learning centres being damaged during the July riots, which broke out after the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma, and budget cuts that run well over R6 billion, KZN students still managed to bag 61 887 distinctions.
The Premier said that the ANC-led government continues to make education an apex priority because it believes that education and a skilled workforce can lift the nation out of poverty and create jobs.
“We reiterate that the class of 2021 is distinctive and remarkable because it proved to be the tough battalion that went through the pain, trauma, and destruction of the July 2021 inferno and unrest. It was a sad and tragic moment in the history of our country and province where no less than 144 learning centres were damaged at a time where the educational budget had been slashed by R6.3 billion as part of cost containment measures.
“The vandalising and targeting of schools to steal food and equipment had been on the rise with the advent of Covid-19 in 2020, and so, the July 2021 civil unrest only worsened the situation and enabled criminals to loot the future of our children. Because of the unrest, all plans for the KZN winter holiday intervention programme had to be cancelled.
“It is in this regard that we truly honour the class of 2021 because we cannot think of a group that went through such disturbances and dislocation in post-apartheid South Africa,” said Zikalala.
He said the benchmark going forward will be a pass rate of 80% in the province.
The Umkhanyakude and Umgungundlovu district municipalities recorded declines in their pass rate, while King Cetshwayo and Zululand recorded “notable improvements”.
Across the province, Mathematics and Physical Science pass rates improved by 3% and 1,5%, respectively. Accounting, Life Sciences, Agricultural Sciences, Business Studies and Economics all saw increases in the number of distinctions achieved.
Six special schools achieved a 100% pass rate.
Mshengu thanked teachers and support staff for going the extra mile in preparing learners to take the NSC examination.
“All we have achieved is possible through the continued support of parents and guardians. We appreciate our peaceful cooperation to ensure the success of our children. Teachers and support staff are our unsung heroes. Thank you for pushing above and beyond the call of duty to prepare our learners,” Mshengu said.