GOVERNMENT has released Grade Nine results showing a drop in the pass rate from the previous year's examination results.
Out of the 291,018 who sat for the examinations in 2012, only 100,824 candidates have passed, compared to 124,331 who made it in 2011.
There were 276,840 pupils who sat for the examinations in 2011.
Education Minister John Phiri announced the results at a media briefing in Lusaka yesterday.
The Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) has attributed the poor results to, among other factors, the low teacher-pupil ratio.
Dr Phiri said 20,507 candidates failed while 54,547 candidates were absent from the examination compared to 29,568 in 2011.
He said Grade 10 classes would open on February 11, while the grace period would end on February 25, 2013.
The minister said 345,565 candidates (18, 484 boys and 165, 081 girls) entered for the 2012 examinations compared to 306,408 candidates in 2011, representing a percentage increase of 11.33 per cent.
A total of 291,018 out of which 153,630 were boys and 137,388 girls sat for the examination in 2012 compared to 276,840 in 2011, representing an increase of 4.87 per cent in the number of candidates.
Dr Phiri said out of the 100, 824 pupils who had been selected to Grade 10, a total of 52,288 were boys while 48,536 were girls.
He said the results gave a progression rate of 34.65 per cent (34.04 per cent were boys and 35.33 per cent girls) compared to 44.91 per cent in 2011.
"The Grade Nine results are already in the provinces. Members of the public should obtain the results from the respective schools where pupils wrote their examinations," he said.
A total of 247 candidates with special education needs, out of which 148 were boys and 99 girls, were selected into Grade 10 from a total of 296. Of these, 174 were boys while 122 were girls.
The progression rate is 83.45 per cent compared to 79.39 per cent for 2011.
Dr Phiri said 154,395 obtained full certificates while 116,116 only managed to obtain statements of results.
A statement of results is obtained when a candidate passes in less than six subjects, while a candidate who fails to pass in at least one subject is deemed to have failed.
"All the provinces recorded absenteeism rates of more than 15 per cent, except for Copperbelt and Lusaka provinces which had 11.62 per cent and 11.34 per cent, respectively.
"Western and Central provinces recorded the highest absenteeism rates at 23.65 per cent and 21.19 per cent, respectively," he said.
In terms of performance, Copperbelt Province recorded the highest proportion of candidates getting certificates at 65.47 per cent followed by North-Western Province with 55.29 per cent, Lusaka Province with 54.96 per cent, while Northern Province had the lowest proportion at 43.03 per cent.
Dr Phiri said Central Province recorded the highest proportion of candidates failing examinations at 10.22 per cent compared to other provinces, while Copperbelt had the least percentage of candidates failing at 3.52 per cent.
The minister said the proportion of candidates who sat for the examinations dropped from 90.35 per cent in 2011 to 84.22 per cent in 2012.
However, ZNUT secretary general Newman Bubala said in an interview that the union was not impressed with the Grade Nine results due to several factors Government needed to address.
"There are several factors that can be attributed to failure of pupils such as increased teacher-pupil ratio where a teacher could teach many pupils in one classroom instead of normal," he said.