The 2015 matric exam national pass rate has dropped to 70.7%, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Tuesday.
This was down from 75.8% achieved in 2014, she said at the release of the results in Midrand, Johannesburg.
If so-called “progressed learners” had not been added to the total, the pass rate would have been 74%.
These were pupils who failed Grade 11 twice and were promoted to Grade 12 without meeting the passing criteria.
The Western Cape was the best performing province in the 2015 National Senior Certificate exams with an 84.7% pass rate.
Gauteng was close on its heels with an 84.2% pass rate.
Motshekga announced the results in Midrand on Tuesday night.
The Free State was the third-best performing province with an 81.6% pass rate, followed by North West with 81.5%.
Next was Mpumalanga with 78.6%, the Northern Cape with 69.4%, Limpopo with 65.9%, and KwaZulu-Natal with 60.7%.
The worst performing province was the Eastern Cape with a pass rate of 56.8%.
Motshekga said the three worst performing provinces – also the country’s three biggest rural provinces – caused a 9% drop in the pass rate. They had 53% of the country’s pupils.
Basic Education Director General Mathanzima Mweli said the largest number of candidates came from KwaZulu-Natal, followed by Gauteng and Limpopo.
More to follow shortly.