South Africa recorded 72.5% national pass rate for matric 2016, an increase on the 2016 pass rate, which was 70.7%.
However, rural provinces such as Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo, which have the most under-resourced and poorest schools, produced pass rates below the national average.
Eusebius McKaiser looks at the crisis in South Africa's basic education with education economist Dr Nick Spaull, Department of Basic Education director general Matanzima Mweli and Equal Education general secretary Tshepo Motsepe.
Education economist, Dr Nick Spaull, says government need to fix problems in the foundation school phase first in order to improve the entire education system.
Spaull says numeracy and literacy are two key skills that children need to learn in the first three years of school.
He says more than 50% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning in any language, with Limpopo numbers at more than 80%.
The most important skill that children need to learn from grade 1 to 3 is ability to read for meaning or learning to read. If they don't learn to read in Grade 3, they cannot read in grade 4 onwards.— Dr. Nick Spaull, education economist
Unless we get these foundational numeracy and literacy skills in the foundation phase, worrying about what's happening later in the system is really missing the point.— Dr. Nick Spaull, education economist
Many teachers don't know how to teach reading and there are no consequences for non-performers.— Dr. Nick Spaull, education economist
Department of Basic Education director general, Matanzima Mweli, says South Africa has one of the top performing education systems evaluated by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).
Mweli says Unesco looks at five principles when evaluating the system; access, redress, efficiency, equity, and quality.
The Department of Education is doing well on access and redress.— Matanzima Mweli
We are also among the best in the world in terms of redress. Policies of government are working. Of course improvement in access is not by coincident.— Matanzima Mweli
We still have a lot of work to do. We are still not doing well in efficiency and quality.— Matanzima Mweli
Mtanzima admits that department only started using accountability mechanisms in primary schools in the last four years.
Equal Education general secretary, Tshepo Motsepe, says the primary school in this country is in shambles.
One of the main reasons, parents are saying i don't want my child to go to a dysfunctional school in the Eastern Cape, I would rather have my child in a better school in Tembisa.— Tshepo Motsepe, Equal Education general secretary
Motsepe says government should employ new young graduates who are highly motivated to change the system.
Listen to the full interview below...