Record number of bachelor passes and aces for class of 2023

The matric Class of 2023 recorded the highest pass rate since the dawn of democracy, with a record number of bachelor passes and more distinctions. Announcing the results for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the national pass rate increased to 82.9% from 80.1% in 2022. This represents a 2.8% increase in the success rate.

Bachelor passes triple in 15 years

Motshekga made the announcement on Thursday in Fairland, Johannesburg. The ceremony was attended by members of parliament portfolio committee on basic education, education MECs and public and private education organisations.

The Class of 2023 achieved a bachelor pass rate of 40.9%, just 10% shy from the National Development Plan target, said Motshekga. Diploma passes accounted for 27.2% of the pass rate.

Higher certificates accounted for 14% and the certificates only 0.01%. “The number of NSC candidates obtaining bachelor passes has nearly tripled since 2008. The strongest growth comes from no-fee schools, demonstrating the equitable nature of these improvements.

Decrease in number of over-age learners

“In part, better NSC results were caused by improved efficiency in the system. Lower grade repetition rates meant less over-age learners in grades 10 and 11.

This allowed more young people to reach grade 12, and get an opportunity to write their NSC exams,” said Motshekga. Free State topped the list with a pass rate of 89%. It was followed by KwaZulu-Natal at 86.4% and Gauteng 85.4%.

North West got 81.6%, Western Cape 81.5%, Eastern Cape 81.4%, Limpopo 79.5%, Mpumalanga  and Northern Cape 78.5%. “None of the provinces performed below the 75% pass rate. And none have a decline when their 2023 results are compared with those of the previous year. 

More heartening and encouraging is the very small percentage gap pass rates attained by provinces. “For instance, there is a 1% pass-rate gap between KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

North West, Western Cape and Eastern Cape differ with 0.1%,” she said.

Limpopo most improved
Motshekga said this demonstrates the overall growth in the system from all educational angles.

Limpopo is the most improved province with an increase of 7.4% in its pass rate. Gateway subjects have shown a marked improvement.

This saw the mathematics pass rate increasing by two digits from 55% in 2022 to 63.5% last year. This marked a 11.5% increase.


The performance of business studies and geography increased by more than 5%.

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