Matric: ‘Mindset change needed’

Matric requirements limit the progression of persons with disabilities in the mainstream.

This according to Beth Cook, chief executive officer of diversity and transformation company Progression. She says the number of persons with disabilities furthering their studies at institutions for higher education is far below that of their abled counterparts.

“Only a handful of persons with disabilities will be finalising their future in higher institutions or securing employment. This is because only an estimated 5% of youth with disabilities matriculate every year,” says Cook.

“It is important to understand that the employable number within the target group of persons with disabilities in general constitutes less than 10% of the population of South Africa. Most of this very small pool of people have no work experience, limited education, no matric qualification and a lack of self-confidence and social skills.”

According to Cook, the scenario presents a conundrum for corporate South Africa when adhering to employment equity requirements.

“The number of people with disabilities who hold a matric qualification is minimal. Adding to the woes of South Africa’s youth is the poor quality of the country’s Gr. 12 qualifications, when compared with other developing countries. In 2015, the World Economic Forum ranked South Africa 139th out of 143 when looking at the overall quality of its education system. The problem is also systematic, with groups from disadvantaged backgrounds suffering the most.”

Cook says the fact that educators are not qualified to teach learners with disabilities or special needs remains the big challenge.

“It is apparent in the number of learners who drop out of the system before entering Gr. 11 and Gr. 12, that there are serious flaws in the current education system. According to Equal Education, South Africa’s official 2017 matric pass rate of 75,1% is not a realistic number when considering other important circumstances, such as the large number of learners who drop out before writing their matric exams.”

According to the Department of Basic Education’s latest Focus on Education Report, Gr. 10 is the most repeated grade in South Africa. In 2015, a total of 20,4% of learners registered for Gr. 10 were repeating it.

“To better deal with these issues, we strongly recommend employers facilitate the development of learners from economically disadvantaged groups through learnership initiatives that do not require a matric qualification as a prerequisite for granting access into the workplace,” advises Cook.

“With adequate training, a learner from an economically disadvantaged background who has achieved an NQF Level 2, 3 or 4 qualification would be better equipped to enter the labour market than a below-average Gr. 12 student.

“By sourcing from the pool of Gr. 10 and Gr. 11 learners, there would be more candidates to fill up posts and it would take care of all those learners who are lost in the system when dropping out.”

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