Despite yet another challenging year, the Matric Class of 2021 achieved a pass rate of 76.4%, a 0.2% increase from the 76.2% achieved in the previous year. This was not an easy achievement, considering the Class of 2021 has endured restrictions and disruptions for two consecutive years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Adopt-a-School Foundation, a partner entity of Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation, celebrates the Class of 2021 and commends it for its resilience and agility.

According to Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga, the Class of 2021 sat its 2021 National Senior Certificate examinations in an environment that none of the previous cohorts of learners have ever been exposed to. It is probable that the Class of 2021 would have achieved more had it not been for the pandemic. More candidates, at a total of 897 163, registered to write the NSC examinations. This represents an increase of 20.2% from 2020. Of these, 537 687 candidates passed, an increase of 21.9% from 2020.

Despite the challenges learners experienced, they produced the best quality results in the history of NSC examinations. Some 256 031 learners gained bachelor passes, an improvement of 21.4% from 2020. The number of candidates who passed with a Diploma is 177 572, 25.2% of the candidates who wrote, an improvement of 17.8% from the 2020 examinations. And 103 859 candidates passed with Higher Certificates, representing 14.9% of the total number of candidates.

Steven Lebere, the Chief Executive Officer at Adopt-a-School Foundation, said the Foundation supports 277 high schools among the 2021 Matric Class. Many of these schools reaped excellent results with an overall achievement of 80%. The quality of results are also impressive with an overall performance of 40.3 % bachelor passes and 25.4% diplomas. The Foundation is delighted that this achievement comes at a time of its 20-year celebration of converting schools into environments conducive to teaching and learning through the implementation of a four-pillared Whole School Development Model. The model focuses on school leadership, curriculum, infrastructure and social welfare.

According to Lebere, since 2002, Adopt-a-School Foundation and its partners have invested over R 1,2 billion in over a million learners across the 623 primary and high schools it supports nationally. This includes several high schools funded by the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) that achieved pass rates of 93.4%. Glen Cowie Secondary School in Groblersdal, Limpopo achieved a 93.4 matric pass rate; Tshivhase Secondary School in Vhufuli in Limpopo achieved 96.6%; Bizimali Secondary School in Nkandla, KwaZulu- Natal achieved 95.1 %; Mosses Maren in Gauteng achieved 72.1% a 11.6% increase from 60,5% achieved 2020. The Industrial Development Corporation funds 20 high schools where the Foundation implements the Whole School Development model.

Learners have also been excelling at provincial and districts levels. Amongst the Adopt-a-School Foundation 2021 Matric Class, is Luyanda Mbeje and Mthokosizi Mlamuli Ndlamini from Bizimali High School in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, a school that benefits from Whole School Development with funding support by the IDC. Mthokozisi achieved 3rd position in the King Cetshwayo District while Luyanda was ranked 5th. Mthokozisi achieved seven distinctions and has been accepted at Sefako Makgatho University to study medicine. Luyanda achieved eight distinctions and has also been accepted at Sefako Makgatho University for medicine.

Additionally, three learners and School Principal from Tshivhase Secondary School were recognised at the Limpopo Provincial Awards. The School Principal, Mr Fhatuwani Maselesele received the Top Principal Award in the Province. Learner, Mukhunyeledzi Muthuphei was recognised as a top performer in mathematics with a 100% pass mark. This is alongside seven other distinctions. Muthuphei has been accepted at Wits University for computer science and has applied to a few bursaries. Ndou Mukhathutsheli was recognised for his top performance in social sciences, achieving 100% and seven distinctions. He has also been accepted at Wits University to study computer science. This is while Muhanelwa Ntikedzeni was recognised as a top learner in physical science as he achieved 100% alongside seven distinctions. Ntikedzeni awaits acceptance from Limpopo University and Wits University to study Medicine.

Mr Fhatuwani Maselesele, the School Principal of Tshivhase Secondary School said, the school drives a culture of excellent results through the support of Adopt-a-School Foundation and IDC. Since 2013 when we joined their programme for Whole School Development, our school has been performing above 90%. Even when the province declines, we improve. Despite the pandemic, in 2020 our school achieved 95.3% and this year we achieved 96.6%. This great achievement is due to the support we received from AAS and IDC. When the pandemic started, IDC and AAS supplied us with new furniture to ensure our learners are able to social distance. Further, they purchased overhead projectors and laptops to ensure teaching continues seamlessly amid the pandemic. Our Class of 2021 had 468 learners who sat for this examination of those 452 passed well.

Ngwathe Secondary School in Ngwathe, Free State, is another adopted school that produced great results, achieving a 98.4% pass rate. Ngwathe is among the high schools supported by the IDC, since 2013.

Tshepo Ramodibe, the Head of Corporate Affairs at the IDC, said the Corporation was “delighted” with the results achieved by the schools it supports.

“We are grateful that our partnership with Adopt-a-School Foundation continues to yield positive results for our learners. The various ICT programmes we have implemented have assisted learners and teachers during this pandemic in that the unplanned disruptions to the school calendar necessitated by rising COVID-19 infections didn’t have a bigger impact on the overall performance of learners,” said Ramodibe.

Lebere paid tribute to the donors who support the implementation of Whole School Development to the benefit of learners and broader school communities.

“The Foundation relies purely on its donors. The year 2021 was a tough year economically and the Foundation is grateful that its donors, like the IDC, continued to support education through this difficult time.

“We call on others to become a part of matric results success in the future by supporting Adopt-a-School,” Lebere said.