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Despite a challenging academic year, the National Senior Certificate (NSC) overall pass rate for 2020 is 76.2%.

Although the 76.2% is a decline of 5.1% from the record pass of 81.3% achieved by the class of 2019, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said the class of 2020 must be commended for maintaining the trend of above 70%.

“The high quality passes we have achieved this year, especially the number of Bachelor and Diploma passes, the overall pass mark, and the passes with distinctions, even in critical subjects, are the hallmarks of the performance of the class of 2020,” Motshekga said.

The year 2020, she said, will be remembered as the year the entire world was engulfed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Government worked hard to strike a balance between saving lives and the academic year.

Announcing the results of the NSC examinations in Pretoria on Monday, the Minister said the pass rate represents a record of 440 702 passes – an increase of 7.5% in the number of passes from 2019. 

“Without the progressed learners, the overall pass rate stands at 81.2% – a 1.1% decline from 2019. Further analyses of the 2020 NSC exam results, with the progressed learners included, show that the number of candidates qualifying for admission to Bachelor studies is 210 820 – an improvement of 13.3% from 2019. This represents 36.4% of the total number of candidates, who wrote the 2020 NSC exams,” the Minister said.

The number of candidates who passed with a Diploma is 150 600 – an increase of 4.1% from 2019; which represents 26.0% of the total number of candidates who wrote the 2020 NSC exams.

“The number of candidates, who passed with Higher Certificates is 79 117 – an improvement of 0.2% from 2019; which represents 13.7% of the total number of candidates, who wrote the 2020 NSC examinations,” the Minister said.

There were 177 435 distinctions achieved – an increase of 13.1% from 2019.

The main contributors towards passes with distinctions were KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Limpopo.

The total number of candidates, who registered for the 2020 NSC exams is 725 034, comprising 607 226 full-time candidates, and 117 808 part-time candidates.

Provincial level performance

The 2020 NSC exam results show that, with the progressed learners, three provinces achieved lower than the 70% pass rate. 

The achievements by province, including the progressed learners, are as follows:

  • The Free State is the leading province at 85.1%,
  • Gauteng achieved 83.8%,
  • Western Cape achieved 79.9%,
  • KwaZulu-Natal achieved 77.6%,
  • North West achieved 76.2%,
  • Mpumalanga achieved 73.7%,
  • Limpopo achieved 68.2%,
  • Eastern Cape achieved 68.1%,
  • Northern Cape achieved 66.0.

“However, without progressed learners, all provinces performed above 70%; and five provinces performed above 80%. Once again, the Free State tops the list at 91.6%,” the Minister said.

District level performance

In the 2020 NSC exams, the top ten districts in the country are:

  • First, is Tshwane South from Gauteng with 89.6%;
  • Second, is Johannesburg West in Gauteng, with 88.1%;
  • Third, is Gauteng North in Gauteng with 87.0%;
  • Fourth, is Johannesburg North in Gauteng with 86.9%;
  • Fifth, is Sedibeng East in Gauteng, with 86.8%;
  • Sixth, is Fezile Dabi in the Free State, with 86.5%;
  • Seventh, is Thabo Mofutsanyana in the Free State, with 85.8%;
  • Tied at eighth, are Metro North in the Western Cape and Ekurhuleni South in Gauteng, with 85.4%;
  • Tenth, is Motheo in the Free State, with 85.2%;

Among the 75 education districts in the country, the top ten districts are in three provinces. 

“More impressively, all of the top ten districts, performed above 85%. Notably, out of the top ten districts in the country, six are from Gauteng, and three are from the Free State; and one from the Western Cape,” the Minister said.

The top district level performances in the respective provinces are as follows:

  • In the Eastern Cape, the leading district is Nelson Mandela at 75.5%;
  • In the Free State, the leading district is Fezile Dabi at 86.5%;
  • In Gauteng, Tshwane South is the leading district at 89.6%; and is also ranked first nationally;
  • Ugu is the leading district in KwaZulu-Natal with 81.7%;
  • Waterberg 2 is the leading district in Limpopo at 77.5%;
  • Bohlabelo and Nkangala are the leading districts in Mpumalanga with 74.6%;
  • Bojanala Platinum is the leading district in the North West with 81.2%;
  • Namaqua is the leading district in the Northern Cape, with 78.6%. 
  • In the Western Cape, the Metro North is the leading district with 85.3%. 


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