• Business Insider South Africa compared the matric pass rates in each province since 2009.
  • South Africa has some of the worst education outcomes in the world, despite spending more on education than many other countries.
  • Limpopo showed the biggest increase in its overall pass rate over the past decade, while the Western Cape lagged. 
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

Despite spending more on education as a share of gross domestic product than any other African country, South Africa has one of the worst primary education systems in the world when measured by outcomes.

The World Economic Forum 2016–17 Global Competitiveness Report rated South Africa’s primary education system 126th out of 138 countries - behind neighbouring Zimbabwe, Kenya and Swaziland.

According to Unicef, South African pupils’ education is interrupted by irregular attendance, absent teachers, teenage pregnancy and school-related abuse and violence. 

Around 27% of the country’s public schools do not have running water, 78% are without libraries and 78% do not have computers.

Also read: These are the provinces with the best – and worst – job numbers over the past 10 years

In the run-up to the 2019 general elections, the ANC promised to amend the curriculum to provide the necessary skills to prepare learners for the 4th Industrial Revolution, the DA aims to improve the quality of teachers, and the EFF promise to criminalise all parents who do not take their children to school.

Business Insider South Africa compared the matric pass rates in the country’s nine provinces over the past ten years. 

Limpopo showed the sharpest increase in its overall matric pass rate, from 48.9% in 2009 to 69.4% in 2018.

It was followed by the Eastern Cape which increased its overall matric pass rate from 51% in 2009 to 70.6% in 2018. No province showed a decline in its overall pass rate. 

Matric pass rate in Limpopo and the Free State the
Matric pass rate in Limpopo and the Free State the past ten years, compared to the total pass rate.

The DA-governed Western Cape, the only province not governed by the ANC, showed the smallest improvement in its matric pass rate, improving to 81.5% since it took over the provincial government in 2009 – but from a high starting point.

Also read: 'White people caused cyclone Idai.': A new campaign uses wild election claims to encourage SA to vote

The Western Cape achieved the best matric results in 2009, but dropped to the third position in 2019. 

The DA, however, argues that the province was able to have the most pupils in grade ten (65%) continue to eventually write matric.

Not a single another province had more than 50% of its grade 10s continue to write the matric exams, meaning that over half of high school students left the schooling system, it said. 

Overall, the country’s pass rate increased from 60.7% in 2009 to 79.4% in 2018. 

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