South Africa’s School Pass Rate Improves for Third Year

Jan. 2 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s school pass rate rose for a third consecutive year, strengthening the government’s drive to improve skills and boost jobs.

The pass rate for final-year students at state schools climbed to 73.9 percent last year from 70.2 percent in 2011, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said in comments televised by the South African Broadcasting Corp. today. The rate has increased every year since 2009, when it was 60.6 percent.

“We’re quite proud that we’ve improved quality,” Motshekga said. “We believe that the improvement of quality is the biggest challenge still confronting our nation.”

Poor educational standards have been a constraint on growth in Africa’s largest economy, with companies battling to hire skilled workers in a country with a 25.5 percent unemployment rate. Half of all children who start school drop out before completing the 12-year curriculum, while literacy and numeracy rates are among Africa’s lowest, according to the government. Pass rates fell for six consecutive years through 2009.

Under apartheid, South Africa’s black majority received only a rudimentary education from poorly trained teachers at over-crowded schools. The African National Congress-led government has struggled to rectify the situation since taking power in all-race elections in 1994.

Motshekga apologized for the delay of delivery of textbooks for some grades in the northern Limpopo province.

“It was indeed very unfortunate that it happened, and it should not have happened,” Motshekga said. “We have apologized profusely.” Final-year students weren’t affected by the delays, she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Franz Wild in Johannesburg at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at