Editor's Note: 16 January 2014

By Drum Digital
13 January 2014

As we celebrate yet another improved matric pass rate, we can’t help but wonder if the matric certificate is worth the paper it is printed on.

AS WE put away the festive decorations and replace them with life’s usual routine, I for one am delighted to have my life – and house – back.

I love my kids, siblings and in-laws, but there’s something unsettling about a crowded home. It’s the 6 am cartoons, fights about which PS3 game to play and for how long, which movie to watch, a massive breakfast to prepare followed by an even larger lunch – there’s always a cousin or two who’ll drop by around at this time –then just as you think you’re done with lunch, supper preparations have to begin.

Did I mention that all this is happening while the domestic is also on holiday? So you’re on your own from 6 am until the last one drops. It’s enough to drive you mad, I tell you. So, yes, I’m happy everything is back to normal and this week the kids are going back to school and my “20 for me” can begin.

While we welcome the improved matric results, we remain concerned about the quality of the matriculants that our system produces.

What good is this increased percentage when we know that most of our school leavers don’t have the necessary basic education required to enter tertiary education with confidence? Our basic literacy and numeracy levels are still too low. Can we even still trust the matric certificate? Challenge a random Grade 11 or 12 learner to a written comprehension test and see what I mean . . .

I visited my in-laws in the Eastern Cape over the holidays and the parents of one of the few young people from Ngqeleni lucky enough to be accepted to university were lamenting over their son’s performance.

The young man seems to have become “lost” in class. “He hears and understands nothing. How is this possible after 12 years of schooling?” his tormented dad asked.

This case is one of the many that have come to our attention – young people who seem ready for tertiary education only to find themselves in too deep when it comes to understanding basic concepts, let alone the workplace. This can be placed directly at Basic Education’s door.

So as we celebrate yet another improved matric pass rate, we can’t help but wonder if the matric certificate is worth the paper it is printed on.

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