Of the 25 130 learners, 5 288 were progressed students, this calculates to 19.1% to the official matric pass rate as announced.
The overall number of candidates, who registered for the November 2017 NSC examinations, was 802 431 and this included 629 155 full-time candidates and 173 276 part-time candidates.
In a statement, Schäfer said that while there is a tendency to focus exclusively on the provincial pass rate - which is an important indicator - other important indicators of success also needed to be taken into consideration to determine if the system is ultimately improving or where it needs to be improved.
The weaker results from rural areas pointed to an unfair distribution of resources., with children from rural schools often forced to have classes in mud rooms and travel long distances on foot while the number of teachers they had was not adequate, it said. The rest of the learners are modularising their examinations.
The learner progression policy encourages provinces to progress or condone over-aged learners who have repeated Grade 11 a few times and give them extra support to sit for the NSC examinations or allow them to modularise their examinations.
"If these provinces did not do this, some of the progressed young people, could have fallen through the cracks of the system, due to continuous repetition and ultimate drop-out from the system", said Motshekga. Of these candidates, Motshekga said, 534 484 full-time candidates, and 117 223 part-time candidates, wrote the examinations. She said 31 of the 70 districts attained pass rates of 80% and above.
There were also several major improvements in the district, with the biggest coming from Concordia High School in Knysna and Zwartberg High School in Prince Albert.
The province came in third in the country with a pass rate of 82.8 percent.
"The WCED has counsellors available across the province should candidates need assistance", Schäfer said. Just over 28% of pupils achieved a pass that will allow them to go to university.
She said the NSC results are very crucial because they serve as the barometer to assess progress government made in improving access, redress, equity, efficiency, and the quality of teaching and learning outcomes.
South Africa is among the worst performers in terms of education internationally, having been placed last in Grade 8 Science and second-last in Maths out of 39 countries for the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) 2015.
Of the number of pupils who passed, 153 610 achieved bachelor, 161 333 diploma and 86 265 higher certificates passes, and 161 081 distinctions were achieved.
Top achiever for learners with special needs holds his certificate awarded by Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty and Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga.