This is the number if school drop-outs and pupils who did not write the tests in the expected time-frame are included.
Official results announced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday showed a 78.2 percent national pass rate for the matric class of 2018.
But the DA says the pass marks were lower if all students who were in Grade 10 in 2016 were included.
“These (2016) Grade 10s should be celebrating with other matriculants, but more than half didn’t write matric in the expected time-frame,” the party’s shadow minister of basic education, Nomsa Marchesi, says.
“This means only 37.6 percent of these Grade 10s passed matric. The others are either stuck the education system repeating grades, dropped out of the system.”
Gauteng claimed the number one position in the 2018 matric results, achieving an 87.9% matric pass rate.
This is followed closely by the Free State, which moved to second, achieving 87.5%.
With a 81.5% pass rate, the Western Cape took third position.
But the DA said the “real” matric pass rate for each province revealed that only the DA-run Western Cape managed to keep over 65% of it’s 2016 Grade 10s in school and through to writing matric on time.
It said in Gauteng, which registered the highest pass rate in the official results, 45% of pupils who were in Grade 10 in 2016 did not write matric in 2018.
“The Free State, with the highest dropout rate in the country, has a well-known reputation for ‘culling’, or intentionally keeping back learners to inflate pass marks,” the DA said.
“The DA has repeatedly called for a national investigation into ‘culling’, but Minister Angie Motshekga is not concerned.”
The DA said a new worry was the multiple exam opportunity system which some provinces had relied on more heavily than others.
It was not clear how many of these learners would actually return to complete their exams in June 2019, and many could be lost in the system in order to inflate provincial pass rates, it said.
A total of 624 733 matrics wrote as full-time candidates in 2018. This was a decline from the over 629 000 that wrote in 2017. The 78.2% pass rate meant 400 761 candidates passed matric.
But the Basic Education Department said in a statement the WCED gave a “patently flawed analysis that the province produced the country’s highest number of National Senior Certificates (NSCs) relative to the population”.
It added that the WCED failed to ensure that “poorer and black youths successfully complete Grade 12”.