Successful Elswood High School's 2030 matriculants Tina Keta, Adolin Riziki, Marainne Kombo and Sylvia Zikhonoa-Ndiwou react joyously after receiving their matric results report. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).
Successful Elswood High School's 2030 matriculants Tina Keta, Adolin Riziki, Marainne Kombo and Sylvia Zikhonoa-Ndiwou react joyously after receiving their matric results report. Picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Everyone should be given a chance to finish matric

By Opinion Time of article published Feb 26, 2021

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by Brain Isaacs

The 2020 matriculation (matric) results were released nationally on Tuesday, February 23, 2021.

Every year the results are released by the National Department of Basic Education (NDBE) and are then open to public scrutiny, quite rightly.

I have no problem with the actual names of students being published in national newspapers.

The NDBE has decided on its own that it will be detrimental to those who fail to have the names of successful candidates published.

Thankfully, the tertiary education authorities have not gone this route.

So once again, we will buy national newspapers on Wednesday, February 24, 2021, to read about the results.

We will see no names except the school’s name and more-or-less 100 numbers of students without their names and we will see next to some numbers the above 80% results in some subjects and whether they achieved a bachelor’s pass.

What a waste of money and paper! If it is meant for public consumption why not publish the names of the students who have passed.

Now some people will object to this, but I am sure the majority of people in South Africa and I would dare to say the world, would want to have the names published. If my memory serves me correct, it was started in 2015, my last full year in teaching.

At the school where I taught, the school community wanted the names of students published in a national newspaper. The school itself published it in a national newspaper.

Quite surprisingly, the WCED took no action against the school.

There is an argument that children will be psychologically affected should her/his name be omitted from the newspaper because the student has failed. Surely, students have 11 years to prepare for matric. I believe the names should be published.

As we study the statistics of the National Senior Certificate examinations it will become very clear to all of us that students who entered Grade 1 in 2009 almost 40% fell by the wayside in 2020.

What has happened to these students? Were the students too poor and had to go and work? Was the teaching so bad that students failed? No!

There was not enough place for these students in high schools.

This matter is not being addressed by NDBE. It is not being addressed by the big teacher unions like the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) and the National Professional Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa).

Why not? Because these teacher unions are too busy fighting for better working conditions and salary increases for their members and not considering the students, not in school. A smaller teacher union, the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw), has brought this fact to the government and the public.

I recently visited high schools to obtain enrolment for a Grade 9 student. The schools I visited bragged that they were full. Is this something to brag about when there will be hundreds of thousands of high school going students, not in schools?

What needs to be done to accommodate all our students in SA?

The nationalist among us will throw our hands up in horror and say the refugees must go home – they are filling up our schools forgetting that the very countries the refugees come from assisted us –housed us and allowed our children to attend their schools during the apartheid years.

These countries also allowed our progressive teachers who had to flee the apartheid system to teach in their schools. We are sitting on a ticking time bomb! High school principals and teachers cannot feel comfortable about turning away students. Their schools may be full, but teachers must agitate for more high schools now!

Principals at principal meetings with regional directors and teachers at subject meetings with subject advisers here in the Western Cape and around the country must agitate for more high schools in the country so that we can accommodate all students coming from primary schools.

No student who has passed Grade 7 should be without a high school.

In the SA Schools Act it is quite clear that education is free and compulsory from Grade 1 – Grade 9 or up to the age of 15. This Act should be amended to include pre-primary education up to Grade 12.

I appeal to the NDBE to address this serious issue.

The NDBE cannot delay this matter. The people of SA fought a long political battle for free and compulsory education from pre-school to high school. Let us mobilise to allow all our students to complete Grade 12.

It is the right and just thing to do.

* Brian Isaacs obtained a BSc (UWC) in 1975, a Secondary Teacher’s Diploma in 1976, BEd (UWC) in 1981, and MEd (UWC) in 1992. He is a former matriculant, teacher and principal at South Peninsula High School.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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