The Independent Examinations Board (IEB) matric candidates achieved a 98.67% pass rate for the 2016 exams, a slight increase from last year's 98.30%.
The IEB exams are written by private schools, which generally have a higher pass rate than the state schools, whose results have not yet been released.
CEO of the IEB Anne Oberholzer said they were proud of the achievements of the Class of 2016. She said with a commitment to hard work over 12 years of schooling, supported by a dedicated cohort of teachers and parents, the learners have achieved the first major milestone in their learning careers.
"There is also a clear realisation among IEB learners, their parents, and their teachers that having the knowledge and understanding that lies behind the results on the certificate is far more important and meaningful for success after one's schooling. To have a certificate with good results, but not the substance of learning required for success, simply means facing failure at the next step of your learning career," said Oberholzer.
The 2016 IEB exams saw 11,022 full-time learners along with 703 part-time candidates from 237 examination venues across Southern Africa write the National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.
A total of 87.61% of those who passed qualified to study towards a degree, up from the 85.26% in 2015. A further 9.83% qualified for entry to diploma study, compared to 11.66% in 2015.
The quality control body Umalusi on Thursday declared the results as free and fair and gave the green light for the release. The body, however, said it was alarmed by the continuation of irregularities in exams.
Professor John Volmink, the Umalusi council chairperson said irregularities have been a thorn in the side of the examinations for many years and they had hoped they would not be faced with the same challenge this year, but numerous incidents were brought to their attention.
"The IEB has prioritised the protection of its examinations from breaches of security as far as possible, using sophisticated technology and emphasising the ethical role that educators must play in building an ethical society. The IEB is conscious that any examination system is only as strong at the weakest link in the integrity chain, and is fortunate to have a strong record in the absolute protection of its examination process," said Oberholzer.
Individual matrics can check for their results online at www.ieb-online.co.za.
The closing date for re-marking is January 10 and the closing date for those qualifying for supplementary exams is February 6.