If you were meant to write matric this year but didn’t, you’re not alone. Almost half a million learners who should have written their Grade 12 exams this year weren’t present. This is in addition to the many learners who weren’t able to matriculate in previous years. In fact, an estimated two-thirds of adults in South Africa haven’t completed Grade 12.
For the learners and adults who make up these numbers, this experience can be frustrating and disheartening. And it can have a serious effect on their ability to access tertiary education and employment. While employers have come a long way in accepting other certificates and evidence of practical training, rather than just university qualifications, almost all companies still require a matric or its equivalent.
The fact that so many young people and adults don’t have a matric has serious ramifications for South Africa’s unemployment rate, which is already among the highest in the world. Youth unemployment is at a staggering 60%. Not having a matric can also perpetuate cycles of poverty, lead to mental health issues, facilitate potential social unrest and instability and thwart economic growth.
Why is South Africa in this situation? Why have so many learners slipped through the cracks?
“Like many issues in the country, the problem is multifaceted and cross-sectional,” says Aunyana Moloisane, the Managing Director of Optimi Workplace, one of South Africa’s leaders in skills development and training. “There are significant problems in South Africa’s education system where schools don’t receive the funding they are entitled to, where teachers are under-resourced and underpaid and where struggling learners are unsupported. And there are other contributing factors.”
Many South African learners are hindered by the country’s broader economic troubles, for example. In countless instances, parents simply don’t have the money to send their children to school. Learners are also affected by a dysfunctional health care system and by socio-political stigma that dictates the gender roles between boys and girls.
“It isn’t easy to identify a single cause why so few learners struggle to finish matric,” Moloisane adds. “Pulling one thread unravels an entire tapestry.”
Fortunately, for every learner who hasn’t written matric, there is another option available.
The Amended Senior Certificate (ASC), accredited by the Department of Basic Education, is equivalent to the National Senior Certificate (NSC) and is widely accepted by tertiary institutions and employers alike.
“The ASC gives adult learners another chance at a matric so that they can pursue further studies, apply for entrepreneurship programmes or enter the formal workforce,” Moloisane says.
“At Optimi Workplace, our ASC programme involves providing learners with the necessary tools and support they need to be successful in their final exams. To date, we have helped over 1500 learners across South Africa achieve this essential qualification.”
To write an ASC, learners must be 21 years old or above; have a South African identity document or a visa or study permit if they are foreign nationals; and have passed Grade 9 or have a recognised equivalent qualification obtained at NQF Level 1.
The ASC is also valuable to public sector entities and corporates who want to improve their teams’ knowledge, skills and confidence, and contribute positively to South Africa’s economic growth.
“Although it may feel like one, not having a matric is not a closed door,” says Moloisane. “It simply means that another one needs to be opened. That door is the Amended Senior Certificate.”
*Phemelo Segoe is an education specialist and Marketing Manager at Optimi Workplace, a division of the Optimi Group.