Girls in KwaZulu-Natal have again edged their male counterparts on the top achievers' list for the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) matric results.
Out of the 18 pupils in KZN to make the coveted list, 10 were girls, including two from Midlands schools.
Schools making the list included Michaelhouse, Hilton College, Durban Girls' College and St Mary's Diocesan School for Girls.
Those on the outstanding achievement list placed in the top five percent in six or more subjects and got a level seven rating for Life Orientation.
St John's Diocesan School for Girls (DSG) told The Witness that it achieved the best matric results in its 120-year history.
All 67 of St John's matriculants achieved a bachelor's pass, and the school had one pupil in the top achievers' list, and another four in the commendable achievers' list.
St Mary's DSG had three pupils in the top achievers' list, and three in the commendable list; while Michaelhouse, which had a 100% pass rate, had two boys on the outstanding list.
Joining them was Hilton College, with two pupils making the list. One of them, Niaan Taljaard, scored a perfect 100% for maths.
Pupils from KZN schools made up about a third of the overall list.
The IEB pass rate increased slightly from 98,76% in 2017 to 98,92% in 2018.
The top St John's pupil, Erin Irvins, who made the outstanding achievers' list, told The Witness the secret to her success was working consistently throughout the year. "I can't believe it," said an ecstatic Erin, who got 7 As. "I don't cram at the last minute. I paced myself throughout the year and felt completely relaxed before the final exams."
She plans on studying a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Pretoria, hoping to become a vet.
Hard work throughout the year pays off for matrics
Michaelhouse's top pupil, Qaqambile Mehlwana, bagged 9 As.
"I am happy all the hard work paid off. What worked was that I made notes during class instead of making them when it was time to study. That takes up valuable time," he said.
Qaqambile, who lives in the Eastern Cape, has applied to Stanford University in the United States to study business administration.
His peer, Samuel Kasher, who achieved 7 As, plans to study either business science or actuarial science at the University of Cape Town.
Hilton College's Niaan Taljaard, who received 7 As, said: "I'm very excited about my results. I worked very hard throughout the year; most people only start studying near exam time."
He is planning on studying actuarial science at the University of Pretoria.
Other pupils to make the outstanding achievers' list from Midlands schools were Matthew Karlson, of Hilton College, who got 8 As, and The Wykeham Collegiate's Margot Inglis, who scored 7 As.
The cohort that achieved a bachelor's pass increased from 88,50% in 2017 to 90,65% in 2018, but the IEB noted in a statement that this was due to the scrapping of the list of "designated subjects" which would qualify a pupil for a bachelor's pass provided they achieved at least 50% for the subject.
A total of 12 372 pupils took the IEB exams this year, 2 185 from KZN.
Education analyst Professor Kobus Maree was not surprised at the positive results at IEB schools, and said public education should look to them to learn.
"This is the product of commitment, dedication, hard work and exceptional management at these schools," he told The Witness. "Their systems are as close to ideal as we can come to. They set a sterling example of how schooling should be handled. Public schools should buddy up with them and learn."