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The Matric Obsession

 

 

Earlier this year in January, a spokeswoman for the Gauteng Department of Social Development, by the name of Lumka elephant, said that many matric students have run away, because they were too ashamed to face their fellow students and parents after failing matric. There is even an incident of a student who committed suicide.

Many of us have that family member who never finished matric, who is still ashamed of themselves despite the fact that they needed to drop out to support their family. This should not be something to be ashamed of. This is still happening today. Children still have to leave school to, look after their families.

An idea that was in part put into effect last year is the idea to keep the exam results private.

At the end of last year the names of the matriculants was not published, in any newspapers, only the students exam number and results were published. However, this doesn’t really keep it a secret who gets A’s and who failed. Your parents, and probably your friends are going to find out how you did in Matric.

 

Here are the numbers no one wants to talk about.

Of the children that start school in South Africa, let’s say there is 100, less than 50 of those students will actually make it to matric. These children have ‘failed’ at school before even getting a chance to write their final exams.

That means that when you look at the number of students who pass matric, remember that only half the children who started school even wrote the exams.

So let’s look at the numbers from last year. Last year 800 000 children wrote matric, it actually should have been at least 1.6 million, but those students didn’t make it. Then of the 800 000 people who wrote matric only 18% got into university.

That means of all the students who start school in South Africa only 9% of all students who go to school get to university. Half of which drop out during the first year. Therefore from school to second year university,only 5% of people who start make it to year two.

According to the ministry of education:

  • 100 students start school
  • 40 write the matric exams
  • 28 pass their final exams
  • 4 enter into higher education
  • 1 ends up getting a degree

 

What happens to the other 99? Must they get a job?

We are obsessed with passing matric and getting that ‘qualification’ even though most people who start school, don’t get a matric. And those who do quickly find out that matric not only doesn’t train you for a job, but does not lead to one either.

A person who dropped out of school in grade 9 and did a bookkeeping short course, will get a job. However, the person with a matric, won’t.

 

There are other reasons for the matric obsession.

Many people in our society, see those who have the most privileged and see that they have a degree. So those who lack a degree, will either try and get one or try and ensure that their children get one. All because we have an idea that a degree leads to financial success. We all try and get that qualification that leads to success.

 

Matric is not a qualification

If a matric was a qualification it would get you a job, or even a job interview, but it doesn’t. If matric was a qualification, then it would give the skills and knowledge to do a specific job, but once again matric doesn’t do this.

Matric can best be compared to an entrance test. Sure if you do well in your entrance test it can lead to further studies. However, if you don’t do well you don’t get any knowledge or skills for any future jobs.

However, a short course in bookkeeping actually gives you bookkeeping skills you can use to get a job. This is not only the case with bookkeeping but in anything skill giving courses, such as pet grooming.

When, we tell students that a Matric pass will get them a job is actually a lie. Another unpopular truth is that a matric without Maths and Science is not worth much.

You can see, this if you decide, to study a technical qualification, as you need at least 50% in Science or Maths to be considered. Therefore technical qualifications are not an “easy” option, but just as difficult to get into as degree courses.

Between 2009 and 2013 there was a 17% drop in the number of people who wrote maths. That meant that in 2013 58% of people who write matric, wrote maths literacy. The number of students who take science has had a similar 17% drop over the same period. The number of students who pass Maths with 40% or more has also dropped by 17%. Since 2013 these number have only gotten slightly better.

The idea has been created that if you struggle with maths you should drop to maths literacy. For the older readers, this would have been maths lower grade.

The problem with creating this idea is that no one informs these students, that if you drop to maths literacy, they won’t be able to go to university or be accepted for any technical studies. Yes, if you want to be a mechanic or electrician you need maths.

Teaching, Engineering, Accounting, sorry but you need maths to study in these career fields

 

Even if you get in to university how will you pay?

University studies, with everything included, will cost a minimum of R50 000. You can apply for help at the NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme). Unfortunately they don’t have enough money for everyone, and as much as we all want free education it can’t happen.

So now you managed to get into university. That’s great but you still have to pass.

Dr. Andre Van Zyl, the director of the University of Johannesburg’s Academic Development Centre; and head of the South African national Resource Centre for First-year Experience and Students in Transition. 50% to 60% Of all the students who make it into university, will fail in their first year.

Approximately a third of students who go to university, are able to cope with the university’s requirements for academic literacy. The other 2 thirds of the university students won’t be able to handle the reading, writing and understanding that they need to pass their chosen degree. This explains why their is a 50% to 60% fail rate of first year students.

More than 50% of students who get to university, would need extra support to pass their course.

 

You will have an even worse matric, if you are black or poor.

A survey done by the SAIRR (South African Institute for Race Relations) uncovered a “social and racial inequalities” when it comes to matric results. This is seen when you break down the matric pass rates according to racial groups:

  • 35% of students who wrote maths got 40% or higher.
  • 83% of white students who wrote maths got 40% or higher.
  • 69.7% of indian students who wrote maths got 40% or higher.
  • 46.3% of coloured students who wrote maths got 40% or higher.
  • 28.5% of african students who wrote maths got 40% or higher.

The SAIRR report also looked how living standards affect academic accomplishments. In the poorest 20% of the population, 5.9% of students passed Maths with 60% or higher. While in the richest 20% this was 23.3%.

 

Will my Matric certificate get me a job?

No it won’t. Not only does maric not qualify you for a job it doesn’t teach you how to look for a job either. We have at least 40% unemployment. The official 25% does not count those who have given up looking for a job because it is too difficult.

 

If I fail matric won’t I get a job?

You probably won’ get a job because we have a 40% unemployment rate. Unless you have some real skills and experiences, you are unlikely to be employed.

You may ask is 4% unemployment bad? Yes, in the Great Depression (1930s) unemployment in the United States went all the way up to 25%. While in the worst countries it went to 33%. So 40% unemployment is a huge problem. One that is especially prevalent among the youth.

If you leave school,you will compete against your fellow school leavers as well as all those currently unemployed also looking for jobs.

 

Final Thoughts

An obsession to get matric certificate even one with a Bachelor’s pass, is just a dream, for 99% of all students. Getting a Matric is not good enough for 99% of people and if you are part of that 99% you won’t even get a degree.