Freedom Front Plus
Freedom Front Plus

Matric: Results stabilise amid lockdown

The Department of Basic Education’s matric results, as announced by Minister Angie Motshekga, have stabilised after last year's downward trend. There has been a slight improvement, from 76,4% to 76,6%, which demonstrates the numerous teachers, parents and learners' determination not to accept defeat.

While independent examination boards (IEB en Sacai) were able to maintain or even improve their level of performance during the lockdown, a large part of the public educational sector, unfortunately, still seems to be stuck in quicksand.

Out of the entire class of 2021, 36,4% achieved a bachelor’s pass, 25,3% achieved a diploma pass, and 14,8% achieved a higher certificate pass.

It is important that every successful candidate considers the level on which he or she passed matric as a solid starting block from where even more can be achieved.

Before addressing the gaps in the provision of infrastructure, sanitation and a general culture of learning, it is important to congratulate the learners who gave their best. Successfully completing Grades 11 and 12 in severely disrupted schools requires extraordinary effort just to achieve what would have seemed fairly straightforward in any other year. There are tens of thousands of learners and teachers who have all achieved this extraordinary feat and, therefore, deserve recognition from everyone in the country.

Performing well will always be an indication of good quality and hard work. The final determinant of success in one's career is not how many talents you have, but how you use them. Thus, the FF Plus congratulates every learner who made use of every available opportunity, despite very difficult circumstances.

Unfortunately, there are also tens of thousands of learners who have been let down by the educational system as a whole. These learners found themselves in the areas where there are not enough schools, where there is no water and sanitation, both at home and at schools, and where poverty creates an atmosphere of hopelessness. It is difficult to motivate learners to study amid a sea of youth unemployment.

In the current economic climate, an effective educational system would have been a beacon of hope. The reality, however, is that pass requirements are so low that many successful matriculants cannot continue their studies nor are they adequately prepared to directly enter into the economy. So, the pass rate of 76,6% is misleading, because the successful candidates who did not achieve a bachelor’s or diploma pass, have very limited economic prospects.

According to the Department, the National Senior Certificate (colloquially referred to as matric) is a qualification that prepares learners for further study and not the workplace. In reality, however, it is the highest qualification that an overwhelming majority of matriculants will achieve. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is supposed to bridge the gap by awarding bursaries to prospective students. Unfortunately, the Scheme is entangled in a myriad of problems and the government simply cannot afford it any longer.

An additional problem is that cadre deployment means that job opportunities depend more on a person's loyalty network than on merit. That further undermines a culture of learning and hard work.

Education ought to be more than chasing good marks, it ought to be an undertaking that widens young people's horizons and cultivates a desire for learning in them. Those are valuable qualities that will last one a lifetime. If education could achieve that, the results will inevitably reflect it. In order words, good results are not the main objective of good education, but a symptom thereof.




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