South African School Grades Deteriorate for Second Straight Year

  • Pass rate for final-year students declines to 70.7 percent
  • Poor results hamper growth in Africa’s second-biggest economy

South Africa’s national school pass rate fell for a second year, highlighting the shortcomings of an education system that ranks among the world’s worst.

The proportion of successful final-year students at state schools declined to 70.7 percent last year from 75.9 percent in 2014, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Tuesday in Midrand, near Johannesburg. Almost 800,000 pupils wrote the examinations, the most ever.

“We all recognize the enormous challenges we face in education,” Deputy Basic Education Minister Enver Surty said at the release of the results.

Poor school results have constrained growth in Africa’s second-largest economy, with companies battling to hire skilled workers in a country with a 25.5 percent jobless rate. The quality of education ranked 120th out of 140 countries in a survey by the World Economic Forum last year. Half of all children who start school drop out before completing the 12-year curriculum, government data shows.

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