DESPITE the drop in the matric pass rate the Limpopo department of education says it is satisfied with the number of pupils who did well in critical subjects.

The province recorded a 48,9percent pass rate in 2009 compared with 54,3percent in 2008.

Education MEC Namane Masemola was at pains to announce the final results in Polokwane on Friday.

Preliminary results were announced on January 7 but there were outstanding ones after it was discovered that the national Department of Education had experienced a systems blockage.

Department general manager for communications Cebile Khanye said yesterday that though there had been a drop in the number of pupils who passed matric last year, they were happy that the quality had improved.

"We are obviously not happy about the drop in the matric pass rate but we are satisfied that the pupils have performed well in critical subjects such as mathematics, physical science and other commercial subjects," said Khanye.

She said of critical importance was the fact that the number of schools that were part of Class 100 had improved from four in 2008 to 17 in 2009.

"This shows that we have improved in terms of quality of performance," she said.

According to Khanye pupils from rural schools also performed better than in previous years,

She said this showed a remarkable improvement in the performance of teachers.

"For the first time since the dawn of democracy we have a top performer from a rural community," she pointed out.

"It is a girl from the rural Thengwe village near Thohoyandou."

Khanye said the Thengwe High School girl had excelled in all her subjects.

"And, out of the top three performers in this province, position one and two were Africans, while the one who came third is from the white community.

"This year we are seriously knuckling down to further improve the quality of performance."