The principals of the two high schools in the city centre say the matric class of 2021 did better than expected despite a challenging year.
The matric results were announced on Thursday January 20, and released across the country on Friday January 21. The Western Cape achieved an 81.2% matric pass rate, up from 79.9 % in 2020.
Cape Town High School’s matric pass rate was 95.7%, slightly down from 97.5% in 2020. Gardens Commercial High School also dropped from 98% in 2020, to 93.1% in 2021.
However, despite the drop in matric pass rates, both principals – Emolten Cloete from Cape Town High School, and Dylan Tommy from Gardens Commercial High School – said they were proud of the results.
Mr Tommy said the pass rate was higher than expected because of the lockdown, and the 2021 matric pupils spending less than half the year in class in Grade 11. Although they were at school for a full year in Grade 12, that gap was still there, he said. They also didn’t write the final exam in Grade 11, but rather a series of tests.
“We were expecting to get an 80% pass rate but we reached 90. There were also big improvements in subjects, like economics, where in 2020 we had a 70% pass rate and this year it was up to 90%.”
He said under the circumstances, he was pleased with the results.
He said although the lockdown was difficult, WhatsApp groups became important for communication, and that created a strong support structure.
This year, they will try to be as “normal” as possible, and reintroduce extra-murals and also the matric camp.
He said they have also recruited two counsellors to be available to pupils for the full year.
At Gardens Commercial High School, Anathi Gongotha, from Philippi, achieved an 81% pass rate with five distinctions, making him the top pupil.
Esther Nkulu, from Salt River, came second with a 76% pass rate and three distinctions. Emaan Ibnouf, from Tygerhof, was third with a 75.6% pass rate, achieving five distinctions.
Anathi could not believe he achieved first place. “This year was so hard, I had to cry sometimes because I thought I couldn’t do it. This was the first year I pulled up my socks and I thought I would receive average marks.
“This is impossible! It’s not me!” he said about his top achievement.
He said his mom was unemployed and a single parent, and it was hard for him to even attend school because they really struggled with the fees, but now “here I am”. “I can’t wait for her to see this. She didn’t waste her time on me.”
Anathi is hoping to be accepted at the University of Cape Town (UCT) to study accounting.
Esther said her results showed how hard she had worked and she was proud of what she achieved.
Originally from the Congo, she said the most challenging part was being turned down when applying for bursaries because she was not a South African citizen. “I thought ’why should I work so hard if I am not going anywhere?’.”
She said he mother was her biggest supporter.
“She was there when I was studying in the early hours of the morning and she was there when I cried. She knows how hard I worked.”
She would love to study economic science, but has to raise money for registration at Stellenbosch University. She is also waiting for a response from some of the bursaries she applied for.
Emaan said coming third was “wow”. “Seeing my results – I’m overwhelmed but with joy. I’m so proud of my class, and I’m so excited for the future.”
She said while no one in her immediate family had tested positive for Covid-19, they had lost two family members, which was hard, but she prayed through it.
Emaan would like to study organisational psychology at Stellenbosch University where she has already been conditionally accepted.
Meanwhile, at Cape Town High School, Mr Cloete said although the pass rate had dropped, the number of pupils who achieved distinctions were higher than last year – in 2020, the bachelor’s pass rate was 57.6%, and in 2021, it was 68.2%. He said the class of 2021 was also bigger than last year.
“So although we slightly dropped in the pass rate, we know the quality of work is being reached as more of our matrics can get into university after school.”
He said this year, with the resources available, and surviving through last year, they have a better idea of what to expect, and can prepare for it.
“Our Grade 11s who are now coming to Grade 12 have not been to school everyday so there will be lots of catching up and a lot of work to make sure we are ready. Other than that, we must make sure the resources are available for learners to work through this year.”
Top achiever at Cape Town High School, Buntu Noqala from Khayelitsha, was speechless to learn that he was the top pupil at the school.
He achieved an 87.3% bachelor’s pass, and six distinctions. He said while he knew that he would do well because he worked extra hard, he didn’t expect to be in first place.
“Before term 3 started, I had already sourced the work on the internet and studied on my own, so when the term 3 came, it was a matter of just studying the work.
“I studied hard – up to 12 hours a day. I just focused on my books. The exams were actually quite challenging for me, but I prayed through it.”
He said he used to wake up at 5am, get to school in the CBD at around 7.45am, and after school he would stay behind to practise exams and leave at 5pm, while others left at 3pm. “I got home at 6pm and then I studied for hours – sometimes I didn’t sleep.”
He said he spent a lot of time asking questions, “irritating” the teachers because he constantly came to them to make sure he understood the work.
Buntu has been accepted at University of the Witwatersrand, and will be studying applied mathematics.
Drielle Kabaselle, from Woodstock, came second at the school with 85.4% and six distinctions, and Tinyiko Dube, from Salt River, was third with an 84.3% pass and five distinctions.
Drielle said she was nervous to go to matric because she wasn’t ready. “Every school holidays I would take study guides at the library and study for the term ahead.”
She said matric was loads of work. “It was crazy, but I kept on praying and studying, and took one day at a time. I took advantage of my study breaks and myself and my friends formed study groups.”
Drielle said she was not sure what she was going to do next year. She is from Congo, and it was hard to get into a university, or even get a bursary as she was not a South African citizen, she said. “However, I will try my best and I would love to study medicine.”
Tinyiko was shocked but happy that she came third in the school. “Due to Covid-19 and the uncertainty of lockdown regulations, there was so much stress and anxiety. We didn’t even have a full year of Grade 11.”
She said she was grateful to her mother for pushing her, because her mother had failed matric in the past and re-wrote her exams.
Tinyiko plans to study accounting next year.