The cost of producing a matric

2012-05-20 21:32

Johannesburg - It cost the taxpayer almost half-a-million rands in 2011 to produce just one matriculant.

That’s the outcome of a ­City Press study conducted with the help of prominent labour ­economist Loane Sharp from ­Adcorp.

Sharp crunched 12 years of ­education budget and enrolment data to help the paper answer a simple question: what did it cost the ­taxpayer to get a pupil in the Grade 1 class of 2000 to become a matric graduate in 2011?

The study didn’t include the cost of school fees, which can reach well over R20 000 a year in some state schools.

Using data obtained from the Treasury and basic education ­department, Sharp calculated:

» It cost South Africa R3 386 to educate each pupil in 2000 and R12 551 last year;

» Based on this trend, it will cost the state R43 300 per pupil per ­year in 10 years’ time, or R25 000 in today’s money;

» It cost a total of R87 600 to get a child from Grade 1 in 2000 to ­matric in 2011;

» It cost R442 900 to produce each matric in 2011 based on the total education budget of that year and the matric pass rate and

» Between 2008 and 2011, total provincial education spending ­increased by 41% even as matric enrolments decreased by 7% over that period.

The analysis underscores the fact that South Africa’s education bill is high by international ­standards.
In 2009, according to a Unesco study, South Africa’s education spending at 5.6% of gross national product was higher than that of the UK, the US and Canada.

It now stands at 6%.

Sharp’s analysis shows that over the past 12 years the teacher wage costs as a percentage of the total education budget dropped from 90% to 77%, which means more money was available for infrastructure, textbooks and support for schools.


Professor Servaas van der Berg from the Stellenbosch University’s department of economics said that more pressure needed to ­come from parents in order for the ­education ­system to become more effective.

“Our research has shown that not all parents realise that passing a grade doesn’t necessarily mean learning is taking place.”

John Kruger from Oxford Policy Management said education expenditure is so high because a large proportion of our population is at school-going age, a large proportion of school-going age children are attending school and our teacher pay is relatively high.

He said teacher salaries had been adjusted upwards between 2005 and 2010 “to restore parity with other professions in the ­public sector ... to ensure that we could attract talented people to the profession”.

“While our spending therefore does not seem exceptional or ­unwarranted, the under-performance of our system in terms of quality outputs has been clearly documented,” he said.

Yusuf Sayed, a reader in international education at the University of Sussex, said: “One way of doing that [improving the quality of educaiton] would be to have certain ­teachers not belonging to one school but rather to a cluster of schools.


“Secondly, and this goes back to the problem of unions, is how do you get teachers to perform better and how do you sanction bad ­performance?

“Ultimately, this question has to be tackled head-on,” he said.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s spokesperson, Hope Mokgatlhe, said the department was not able to prevent pupils from progressing to the next grade in ­order to keep costs down.

“Interventions are in place to ­lower the school drop-out rate, ­including extending school nutrition and workbook coverage to high schools, offering free maths and science textbooks courtesy of the Shuttleworth Foundation, ­providing curriculum coverage ­instruments to ensure that ­teachers ­cover the curriculum, and a national learner attainment strategy of the department.

“Education expenditure in South Africa is on par with other middle-income countries,” she said.



  • Bomb - 2012-05-20 21:43

    costs so much, yet it means so little. must be the most overvalued school qualification in the world, all that money, and matrics cant read and write.

      Koos - 2012-05-21 00:46

      It just shows that money can't buy competance.

  • Daryl - 2012-05-20 21:43

    We all know that money for education is not used on the pupils....

  • rowen.loretz - 2012-05-20 21:54

    nice...that is why i am not paying taxes anymore. Catch me if you can SARS

      Rob - 2012-05-21 07:27

      Well said EK!!!

      Martin - 2012-05-21 10:06

      cash is king,

  • pat.louw - 2012-05-20 21:56


  • Jean - 2012-05-20 22:02

    I'm a full believer in, you can't put a price on education but education must mean something, it must push students to the best of their abilities not this strooi they teach at school with a 30% pass mark.

      Sharon - 2012-05-20 22:42

      I agree, a 30% pass rate is not what could be called a good return on investment. I want my money back!!

  • Michael - 2012-05-20 22:02

    Moral of the story, finish school at grade 11 and save the state R500k?

      Koos - 2012-05-21 06:03

      That is a lot to pay for toilet paper

  • Gareth - 2012-05-20 22:08

    Then after Matric profile the graduates for varisty so the mediocrity continues.

  • lownabester - 2012-05-20 22:10

    What happened after they finished matric??? Nothing, most are still as uneducated as before they started school. waste of my money as taxpayer

  • Stewart Croucamp - 2012-05-20 22:12

    Have you ever tried to read and understand an email from a school leaver in the workplace and tried to understand what they are saying?

      Michael - 2012-05-20 22:20

      As per the case below?

      colin.dovey - 2012-05-20 22:36

      @Michael - you are SPOT on! - The problem this Government have themselves created is already a ticking TIME BOMB - with them increasingly running around like chickens without heads - VERY SCARY!

  • Kgothatso - 2012-05-20 22:14

    Its all d same,coz many of ds children r gonna bcum wealthy people nd tax trible d amount d state is so keen on lettin us knw abt...

      anthony.richardson.961 - 2012-05-20 22:49

      And you are a product of the self same education system? God help us!

      danny.levin.351 - 2012-05-21 09:03

      Please people, be nice to Kgothatsu. Do I need to remind you that is is rude to make funn off the village idiot? Come on now, be nice...

      Mfundi - 2012-05-21 09:54

      Noooo Kgothatso! Why did you have write like this? Now you have just proven to everyone that the state is wasting the tax payers money because there is no way you went to a private school and came out spelling like that. Besides the spelling, what are you trying to communicate to us readers? Come on my brothers, we can do better than this :(

      mulalo.makhale - 2012-05-21 10:28

      Now this is embarrassing, I mean really…

  • Anton - 2012-05-20 22:27

    As a prosecutor I deal with people in different classes across the whole spectrum of South African society. There comes a time when one hears what level of education an accused person has, usually at sentencing stage. What I found shocking was that at least 60% to 70% (in my experience) of people who appear in court say they passed Grade 11, but failed to proceed to grade 12. Why I'm shocked is that the level of development of most of these people is so low, they are mostly streetdwellers who can't speak English properly, certainly also without the abbility to do basic maths, in fact they often have no skills whatsoever. In some schools your average Grade 5 or 6 pupil will have better skills and knowledge thatn some of these Grade 11'ers I don't say this to criticize those people, I realize that we all did not have the same oppertunities and I feel sorry for them, but I cannot understand how someone with such low development could have made it to Grade 11. And it cost nearly R443 000??? It seems to me then that the school system does not demand from children to learn and earn their progress to a new grade! What is the point of progressing children then through the grades then? Something is really wrong with the system...

      marcandre.daniels - 2012-05-20 22:47

      Anton, I teach prospective legal practitioners at a leading distance learning university, and I can tell you I'm shockes to think that some of these students will have to stand up and defend (or prosecute) someone in a court of law some day. Place my future in their hands? No way! They don't realise a lawyer/prosecutor's job demands speaking, arguing a point convincingly & logically; reading critically; having a questioning mind; exuding confidence -- not just getting a piece of paper to say you're qualified.

      niel.burger.5 - 2012-05-20 23:15

      Anton,very sad,but the anc is very clever....! The more 'unschooled' people,the more votes! Children are having children and that is where the problem starts! Almast a fashion statement to walk with a child on the hip! You don't get problem children,you get problem parents!

      anton.burger.14 - 2012-05-20 23:59

      I made a mistake, sorry, what I meant to say was that they pass Grade 11, proceed to Grade 12 but cannot pass Grade 12. So they are then left with a Grade 11 \qualification\.

  • lmadikwe - 2012-05-20 22:39

    Firstly, I wonder what's SADTU's response is going to be. Or are they planning their preferred presidential candidate for Mangaung 2012. Secondly, "how do you get teachers to perform better and how do you sanction bad ­performance"? Teacher unions are a common headache across the globe including USA. Getting rid of an under performing teach can more tedious than getting rare skill health practitioner.

      Murechen - 2012-05-21 08:26

      SADTU will do nothing as usual - they refuse to have teachers sign performance agreements, so no matter how bad thing become teachers cannot be held accountable for not teaching.

  • marcandre.daniels - 2012-05-20 22:54

    “Our research has shown that not all parents realise that passing a grade doesn’t necessarily mean learning is taking place.” As a high school teacher in a township school, let me say this: whenever a scapegoat is needed for the problems in SA Education, it falls on the unionised teacher -- IN EVERY SINGLE CASE! Never is it considered that teachers are workers who are afforded to right to defend their employment conditions as well (esp. from a pernicious employer!). Never is it considered that the problem may well be with the parents, for seeing the teacher as the enemy in every case a child is truant. Never is it considered that the problem may well be with the child: there is no culture of learning; there is no ambition to want to excell; instead there's an entitlement, driven by mediocrity. We fight a battle of wills in our classrooms, not so much against ill-disciplined children, but against indulgent parents who have lost control over their kids. Of course, this is not the case in every school, so the trend is towards the exclusive schools with high school fees; but we are villified for sending our kids there! If one wants to gauge the true nature of education practice, speak to a teacher!

      Johana - 2012-05-20 23:30

      My personal experience is that it is always a teacher, and it is always SADTU member. By my experience, with my sister's kids (I still not have my own) ALWAYS there is a problem with lasy, uneducated SADTU member that blames kids that are ill-disciplined, lasy or just stupid.

      Koos - 2012-05-21 06:08

      To be a teacher is not a job, it is a calling. Just like a police officer. Where you work is your choice, if you don't like it LEAVE. Teachers, like The Spear should be an example to the kids of South Africa. Can you honestly say they are?

      John - 2012-05-21 09:19

      I understand what you saying and where you are coming from. However when we look at the teachers strike right at the beginning of this year, the SADTU strikes just prior to matric exams EVERY year, the "absent" teachers, the uneducated or unqualified teachers, the teachers who are not prepared to put their reputation on the line by signing performance agreements. etc, etc... then there is a huge problem with teachers and SADTU. How do you expect a pupil to be motivated when teachers have attitudes like that...

  • Johana - 2012-05-20 23:23

    Yes cost so much to create another illiterate unemployable youngster. We can save that money and put it in education in some other country and get educated people from there. However, that will not solve the problem, in short term, it will as we will get educated young force to do the job, but we will sit with unemployable ANC voters that will breed to create at least 10 new welfare dependents per father. Only solution is to ban SADTU, but it will never happens as long as we have ANC in power, as they want people to be uneducated. We need a miracle.

  • ivan.bekker - 2012-05-20 23:32

    flawed maths! » "It cost R442 900 to produce each matric in 2011 based on the total education budget of that year and the matric pass rate" with that argument we can say it cost almost 442900 to produce each grade one people based on the ..... but hey lets prove our point with useless numbers!

      Koos - 2012-05-21 06:09

      The point is as useless as the certificate.

  • mmenzisco - 2012-05-20 23:42

    Well, I don't think it's only teachers problem. The government, parents, and teachers have a hand in all this. Government For setting such a low passing mark (33%). In order to be a Scientist of tomorrow you have to be best on what you do. There is no scientist will ever expand South African technology and improve this country condition if they can't think. And this is not about the IQ. I wish we can learn from Chinese, that repeat one thing over and over again and again until it becomes their second nature, is the only way to get forward. That's one of the Ku Fu principles. Parents Well. this one will go to the black parents because I think white they actually better in encouraging and supporting their children in terms of education. Of-coarse there are other races in South Africa ("coloreds???"). Most parents have failed to recognized and support their children, this is not about having money or education background. Just to ask a child how was school and chat a lil beat about it, and give a child some motivation. Talk about the future. That only does a trick to a child's mind. I remember my mum wanted me to do engineering and Father enjoyed my cooking, he wanted me to be a chef (lol!!!). Still, they supported whatever I choose. Secondly, discipline. The child can't go to sleep without you as parent making sure he/she has touched his books and done the homework. Well, the parents must expect good marks, not 50%'s. Good marks must be appreciated at the end of the year.

      Johana - 2012-05-20 23:48

      Do not blame parents. Only problem is the government, SADTU. Ban SADTU and you will see instant results.

      anton.burger.14 - 2012-05-21 00:07

      I agree with you! Parents play a huge role in a child's academic development! Parents want schools to be their kids' parents while the real parents just want to mess around in their own lives as if they themselves are still kids. No wonder the children are so directionless...

      Koos - 2012-05-21 06:13

      Government is to blame as they employ the people. They are not woth to be called teachers in my eyes. Parents are to blame. Too many kids. Not interested in how or what they do.

  • Rob - 2012-05-21 00:40

    You know what? Maybe it could be a lot less if the system was more effective and cost sensitive...but that is not the biggest problem. Try these... 1. What did it cost per head for the ones that didn't get a matric pass? 2. Do some absolute calculations to arrive at the total Rand cost each year 3. But mostly I want to know why the consumers of this money fail to be grateful to the people who provide it?

      brianmacza - 2012-05-21 06:23

      Simply because it is more beneficial to breed a 'victim mentality' than a critical thinker. These kids become voters.

  • - 2012-05-21 01:00

    Totally incorrect figures and news headline.Don't get why people or even journalist want such attention.R20000 in school fees?public school?.It's just a study conducted to undermine the progress of education in SA.

      Koos - 2012-05-21 06:15

      What progress? 30% as a mark to get into uni. You my friend are not so clever afterall.

      Koos - 2012-05-21 08:04

      Instead of the thumbs down please give me a list of the progress made. Discontinue of the textbook tender in Zimpawpaw is not progress.

  • Faizie - 2012-05-21 03:36

    Its time to introduce compulsory 1 year community service for all school levers from what ever grade they discontinue their education. No discipline, no sense of worth, no chance

      Koos - 2012-05-21 06:32

      Cosatu will not like that idea.

  • Christo Geyser - 2012-05-21 03:38

    All of mine, your and everyone else's tax money invested yes that is the word and the result: people that can't put together a proper sentence with shocking spelling, demanding a salary from their employer because it is their ideological right??? Root of poor performance: Required score to pass grade matric: 30%

  • brianmacza - 2012-05-21 06:19

    Meaningless numbers. My kids went to a private school and both matriculated in 2010. The total bill to ME for the year was a shade over 100k. That was the REAL cost of a Matric. The fact that the state pushed me to put my kids into a private school is not the issue - the issue is that rampant mismanagement and incompetence causes a low pass rate which they feel justifies the bogus numbers produced as a 'cost'.

  • zolisa.dlokovu - 2012-05-21 06:24

    \...passing a grade doesnt mean learning is taking place\ a very interesting view

      Koos - 2012-05-21 06:30

      paying taxes does not mean serveice delivery is taking place. There is a trend.

  • Gerald Jordaan - 2012-05-21 07:30

    And then they fail again and again and again and...!!!

  • Nhlanhla - 2012-05-21 07:43

    What a waste. A matric product who can't read, can't write, can't pass basic university entry assessment and can't reason. Matric is such a waste for the majority of learners. Actually they should be sent back to Grade 1.

  • Nhlanhla - 2012-05-21 07:47

    How much was wasted on Julius? But now he is as rich as they come. Matric is useless. Julius is a million dollar man even though he failed Woodwork...laughable stuff!

  • Elize - 2012-05-21 08:49

    South Africa, the time has come to reward people for responsibility and not for capability. Child grands only succeed in teen pregnancy, with more unwanted children ending up on streets and/or fairly young grandparents out of work to look after their offspring. Why not start the grant only after 3 years of school was successfully completed and increase this every 3 years so that the nation can be educated. This can then become the pension for the responsible parent. This might even help the welfare system by keeping more kids off the streets and willing to become something in life and not just someone that wait for a handout.

      Nadine - 2012-05-21 08:59

      I think parents need to form a union and fight SADTU out of power over our kids education. This B/S has happened for too long , SA can never move forward with such Sub Standard education.There are some really good teachers out there but for the majority of schools and the majority learners there are too many teachers hiding behind SADTU. SA education is a Joke- OBE is a waste of money its time to get rid of it.

  • danny.levin.351 - 2012-05-21 09:00

    All this to produce unemployable people that have been fast-tracked with a 30% pass grade and are still illiterate 12 years down the line? what a waste. perhaps if all cadres involved from the minister down to staff in the EDUKSHEN dept, along with all USELESS teachers were to be fired and competent people employed the cost would be the same (possibly less if the thieves were fired) and the result would be a matriculant who can actually "rite,read and do rithmetics"...

  • John - 2012-05-21 09:03

    If they have used treasury figures then it include the "wasteful and unnecessary" as well as "missing funds" Has the money been well spent on quality education or just filling posts with unqualified and uneducated teachers?? How much of the cost are to replace/repair vandalized and "torched" schools due to undisciplined pupil behavior??

  • Loo - 2012-05-21 09:14

    R 500,000.00 to produce a matriculant with a pass rate at 30% ???? Cmon .. if you cant pass matric with 30% you should have left school in std 6 already .. seriously.

  • Antin - 2012-05-21 16:40

    Almost four times as dear, and worth even less....

  • pages:
  • 1