In 13 days thousands of candidates who sat for the matriculation examinations will know if they have the licence to seek employment or further education, or whether they will have to repeat grade 12.
Sowetan will help to spread the good and, for some, bad news, by publishing the results in the Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West.
The prospects look good this year because of the scarcity of most of the factors that used to affect the quality of the examinations in the past, such as paper leaks, cheating, dysfunctional schools and demotivated pupils and teachers.
Mpumalanga was rocked by scandal in 1998 when the matriculation examination results in that province were inflated by 20percent.
Then in 2004 it was discovered that hundreds of pupils had cheated and had been helped by their teachers in most cases.
Things have stabilised somewhat under the current education minister, Naledi Pandor.
The Mpumalanga glitch aside, the national 2004 pass rate stood at 70,7 percent, while last year's pass rate was 68,3percent. Both the 2004 and last year's pass rates were lower than the 2003 pass rate, which stood at 73,3 percent.
In all, 330717 candidates passed matric in 2004, compared with 347184 last year.
But 137503 candidates failed matric in 2004, and the number rose to 161179 last year.
Things looked rosy between 1999 and 2003 when the matric pass rate increased from 48,9percent in 1999 to 61,7 percent in 2001, and from 68,9 percent in 2002 to 73,3 percent in 2003.
More candidates achieved university endorsements last year than in 2004. Last year there were 86531 candidates who attained endorsements, compared with 85117 candidates in 2004.
Strategies from the education authorities that seem to have done the trick include vigorously attending to dysfunctional schools, boosting the morale of both pupils and teachers, improving cooperation and collaboration between national and provincial Education Departments, and introducing common, nationally-set papers for mathematics, geography, history, accounting, physical science and biology.