'RESOURCES PROVED VITAL'

KWAZULU-NATAL yesterday earned bragging rights to being the only province to register an improved matric pass rate. It went up by a whopping 3,5percent from 57,6percent in 2008 to 61,1percent in 2009.

KWAZULU-NATAL yesterday earned bragging rights to being the only province to register an improved matric pass rate. It went up by a whopping 3,5percent from 57,6percent in 2008 to 61,1percent in 2009.

There were huge celebrations at the Durban ICC when education MEC Senzo Mchunu announced the results yesterday.

He said the turnaround strategies implemented by the department in 2009 had helped the province increase the pass rate.

"Among these initiatives were regular visits to under-performing schools by district, provincial and national officials," Mchunu said.

Schools were provided with critical resources like digital media; improving management at schools and monitoring teacher and pupil attendance.

"The area of focus was on resources required to facilitate and support teaching and learning. We also focused on monitoring teaching and learning and providing support."

Of the 132176 KwaZulu-Natal pupils who wrote the exams, 80733 passed and 26287 gained university entrance.

The Umlazi district pass rate dropped but it still led the province at 72,1percent. In 2008 it obtained 74,8percent.

Mchunu also announced that the number of schools with a zero percent pass rate had declined from seven districts to four. These were in the Obenjeni, Empangeni, Vryheid and Umzinyathi districts.

The number of no-fee schools in the province would increase by 131. This means that more than half - about 3513 schools (59,60percent) - would be declared no-fee schools.

High praise for the province also came from Minister Angie Motshekga.

"I would like to commend KwaZulu-Natal on its efforts," she said.

She also had praise for Eastern Cape, where the results had stabilised at about 50percent.

"Both these provinces are essentially rural in character, with high rates of poverty, but they have shown that they have managed to buck the downward trend of the past years and have begun the turnaround," Motshekga said.

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