Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

'Lack of matric making SA's youth unemployable'

By Bongani Nkosi Time of article published Feb 12, 2020

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While more than half of the people trapped in unemployment in the country have no matric, the government’s own data has estimated 65% of those leaving school each year do so before obtaining the critical certificate.

The Draft National Youth Policy for 2020-2030, published on the current national gazette, stated that about a million youth exit the schooling system each year and 65% leave without matric.

This one million figure, of those exiting school, included those who sit for the matric exam and those dropping out in other grades.

Just over 504000 sat for the final exam as full-time candidates last year, and 94397 failed to attain the certificate. This is how the 81.3% national pass rate came about.

The Draft National Youth Policy problematises what it terms “high drop-out rates” in the country’s school system, saying it was a major contributing factor to the skills shortage among youth.

This draft was prepared by the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the Ministry of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, and the National Planning Commission.

“Large numbers of learners are dropping out of secondary schools - without getting a National Senior Certificate or Grade 12, or an FET or adult basic education and training qualification,” it said.

“About a million young people exit the schooling system annually, of whom 65% leave without achieving a Grade 12 certificate.

“Half of those who exit the schooling system do so after Grade 11, either because they do not enrol in Grade 12 or they fail Grade 11,” it said.

“This document is clearly marked as a draft and, for that reason, we are not going to comment on the content thereof,” said Department of Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.

“It is not final, so the authors fully understand that the information contained herein could still be quality assured. The department will use the appropriate channels to make input, as part of the consultation process,” Mhlanga added.

Martin Gustafsson, an education expert from Stellenbosch University, said while he agreed that about a million learners exited the system each year, it was contentious that 65% left without matric.

“I agree with the million (figure). It’s probably less than a million, maybe 950000,” said Gustafsson.

“I don’t agree with the 65% (figure). That 65% should be about 45%. About 55% of youth get matric.”

Given that 409906 passed matric last year, it becomes even more contentious that 55% of youth obtained matric if 950000 exited the system each year.

Lerato Gambu, NYDA’s spokesperson, vouched for the numbers reflected in the youth policy document.

“The figures mentioned therein are from the National Youth Policy (2015-2020). It could be that they have been added purely because it could be a recurring challenge,” he told The Star.

Publication of the draft policy coincided with yesterday’s release of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, by Statistics SA.

Revealing that the country’s unemployment rate stood at 29.1%, it stated that 55.9% of the jobless had education levels below matric. Those with matric made up 34.7% of the unemployment rate, while only 8.7% of the unemployed held post-school qualifications.

The youth policy document said intervention was needed to arrest the problem of the “matricless unemployables”.

“Large numbers of young people exited the education system prematurely and possess no professional or technical skills, making them effectively unemployable,” stated the document.

“Without a targeted intervention, they will remain excluded from the economy.

“A multi-faceted approach is needed to strengthen basic education and reduce drop-out rates for current students. It has to create pathways for school leavers to access post-school learning opportunities, while addressing the lack of skills and work experience among youth.”


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