2014 matric: 85.45% of candidates achieved degree passes - IEB

9976 full time and 475 part time candidates sat examinations, pass rate was 98.38%

IEB National Senior Certificate 2014

9976 full time and 475 part time candidates from 191 schools across the country wrote the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations in November 2014.

This year saw an increase of an additional 396 learners that wrote the IEB examination, compared with 2013. This increase came from 7 new institutions that have joined the IEB as well as from increases in learner numbers at existing schools.

The 2014 pass rate is 98.38%, comparable to last year's pass rate of 98.56%. All candidates that passed achieved a pass that is good enough to enter tertiary study at one of the three levels. 85.45% (compared to 85% in 2013) of the cohort achieved entry to degree study and 11.56% (compared to 12% in 2013) qualified for entry to diploma study. 1.37% (compared to 1.5% in 2013) achieved entry for study at the Higher Certificate level.

The IEB prides itself on running examinations of the highest professional standards. The examining panels consist of top educationalists, who keep abreast of best practice locally and internationally. Marking is of the highest quality and accuracy. The IEB exercises tight control of operations, strict adherence to deadlines, and meticulous attention to detail to ensure that its candidates receive results that are fair, valid and reliable. UMALUSI, the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training, has once again closely monitored the IEB's assessment procedures and has approved its results for release to candidates.

"Recent events in the history of our democracy has shown that our young people, who are about to assume their position as active citizens in our country, must be people who understand the realities of daily living in South Africa, have the ability to play an active role in addressing these realities and have the courage to speak up and act when they see the rights and freedoms, guaranteed in the Constitution, being undermined.

Education therefore is so much more than the achievement of good results in the NSC examinations. While this is a very important personal milestone and has a significant impact on shaping one's future, the key role of education is to provide young people with the capabilities beyond academic prowess that make them rounded citizens who engage constructively and meaningfully with their world," says Anne Oberholzer, CEO of the IEB.

President Michelle Bachelet from Chile recently observed that ‘on top of demands for democracy, and an equal distribution of opportunities, goods and services, the demand for participation is essential.'

"President Bachelet was speaking about the responsibilities that rest on the shoulders of citizens in a democracy - the need for active participation at every level of society by our citizenry, to preserve our nation's rights and freedom. To do this, our system requires that teachers understand the notion of democracy and provide opportunities for their students to come to an understanding of what it means. They need to create learning conversations in which children discuss and debate contentious issues rather than have lessons where the teacher imposes his or her own ideologies on them. These conversations provide a vehicle through which learners have an opportunity to understand, through engagement with fellow learners, that there are legitimate views that others hold which they might not share. Finally it is such conversations that enable an understanding that every nation must build a common purpose and an understanding of the principle of mutual dependence," explains Anne.

The IEB acknowledges the teachers of the class of 2014 who have made every effort to broaden the views and understanding of their learners to take their rightful places in our global village. Their hard work over the 12 years of schooling of this group of learners has guaranteed their exceptional performance. Teachers, together with parents, family and friends form the broader circle of support that ensures that a child is not only academically ready to enter the world after schooling, but is also socially and ethically prepared to take up his or her rightful place as a constructive citizen of our country," she adds.

The new CAPS introduced at Grade 12 in 2014 have placed emphasis on Mathematics and Physical Sciences. IEB schools have always emphasised the importance of these subjects to their learners. Hence approximately 66% of IEB learners offer Mathematics and the remaining 34% offer Mathematical Literacy. A substantial 49% of learners (4900) offered Physical Sciences. The percentage of learners scoring 40% and above in Mathematics is 88.6% and the percentage scoring 40% and above in Physical Sciences is 88.5%.

"However, while the nation's emphasis on the importance of the study of Mathematics and Physical Sciences is understandable, it is worth recalling the words of Lisa Randall, an American physicist who said ‘Creativity is essential to particle physics, cosmology, and to mathematics, and to other fields of science, just as it is to its more widely acknowledged beneficiaries - the arts and humanities.' The value of the arts and humanities subjects in the curriculum is as important as mathematics and the sciences and we must guard against undermining their value in shaping our society," emphasises Anne.

Advanced programmes

The IEB conducts assessment in three Advanced Programme (AP) courses, namely AP Mathematics and AP English and Afrikaans.  These are courses are designed for strong school-going learners with a specific talent and interest in the fundamental disciplines of Mathematics and literature study.

The AP courses are available to any learner in South Africa who chooses to participate. Hence learners in both IEB and state schools make use of the opportunity to extend their learning and challenge their own abilities through these programmes. The assessment has been benchmarked by UK NARIC, the UK equivalent of the South African Qualifications Authority, and are considered equivalent to the UK A-levels. Learners who have been successful in these courses have shown conclusively that there are a significant number of South African learners whose academic performance is comparable with the highest school- leaving standards in the world.

From a total of 2315 learners offering AP Mathematics, 1153 come from state schools and 1162 from independent schools. The performance of the class of 2014 has been very pleasing with 85.2% achieving a pass above 40%. From a total of 610 learners offering AP English 96.8% achieved a pass mark of 40% or above while all those offering AP Afrikaans achieved a mark of 40% and above.

The number of learners choosing to participate in the programmes has risen since 2013. In AP Maths the increase has been from 2109 in 2013 to 2315 in 2014, a 9.8% increase and in AP English the increase has been from 555 learners in 2013 to 610 in 2014, a 9.9% increase. Any state school that wants to participate in these assessments should contact the IEB early in the New Year to make the necessary arrangements.

Adult examinations

The IEB is pleased to announce the release of its results for the November National Adult Education examinations for the General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) qualification at NQF Level 1.

2486 candidates wrote examinations across 8 subjects. These candidates are predominantly adult learners who are fully employed but have been given the opportunity to further their studies at AET level 1-3 and at NQF Level 1. These are often people who for a wide variety of reasons, were not afforded an opportunity to complete formal schooling with a recognised qualification. A number of employers provide such learners with an opportunity to study towards a recognised qualification.

There is also a fairly substantial number of unemployed learners who have been given an opportunity to enhance their chances of employment by improving their literacy skills through community centres. These charitable organisations do good work in communities and their success highlights the importance of AET in our communities. Of the 3630 subject examinations that were written in November, 1997 subject passes were attained.

"Although the pass percentage of 55% is relatively low, one of the most heartening parts of our work is to witness the happiness of people when they achieve a pass in these examinations. The IEB congratulates all the successful learners on their achievements and encourages those who were not successful, not to give up and to make the effort to try again next year," concludes Anne.

Background for media:

The IEB has 9976 full time and 475 part time candidates in 2014, registered at 192 IEB affiliated schools across the country, Mozambique, Namibia and Swaziland as follows:


Number of schools  

Number of learners

Eastern Cape



Free State






KwaZulu Natal















North West Province



Northern Cape






Western Cape






The Gauteng numbers include learners registered with two distance learning institutions which have their head offices in Gauteng. These institutions have both full time and part time learners who live in areas across the country. They are registered with the distance learning institution which manages their lesson delivery as well as the assessment requirements and in Grade 12 these adhere strictly to the NSC requirements and are moderated and verified by the IEB.

About the IEB

The IEB is an independent assessment agency separate from State and Provincial examination boards operating within the constraints of national legislation and provisions of the national quality assurance body, Umalusi. Umalusi has granted the IEB accreditation for the assessment of the National Senior Certificate.

The IEB offers examinations for client schools at the Grade 12 level, in line with national policy, based on the National Curriculum Statements and using various forms of assessment, including final summative examination and continuous assessment - i.e. orals, practicals and portfolios. The School Section  acts in accordance with Umalusi prescriptions and the provisions of Higher Education, using professional educationalists who are practising teachers in various subject disciplines. These teachers are active members of IEB Subject User Groups which engage with the curriculum and make recommendations on assessment practice based on real school experience.

Statement issued by Anne Oberholzer, IEB, December 31 2014

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