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SAFTU statement on the matric results

SAFTU joins the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga and indeed many South Africans in congratulating the class of 2019 matriculants whose passed rate surpassed all previous passing rates. The passing rate improved to 81,3% from 78,2%.

SAFTU wishes all those who passed well as they move to the next stage of the challenges, they face under conditions of not their choosing. We call on those who did not pass and who did not obtain a university entry not to despair. These students are called upon to use available opportunities to write the subjects they did not do well on and or if they could to go back to class even though our system does not encourage this route.

SAFTU joins those progressive formations which have expressed concerned about the hype attached to grade 12 results. This hype completely distorts the total picture of the South Africa education system. The public education system remains dysfunctional under-resourced with a growing number of kids per class, where learners in only 47% of the poorest schools can access a library. On the other hand, we still have a private education that is extremely expensive catering for a small number of kids from wealthy parents. Kids from these privileged backgrounds have the best that competes well with world standards.

Further to this reality that is obscured by the hype of grade 12 pass rate of 81,3% is the following facts:

1. 78% of grade 4 children can’t read for meaning in any language, and 61% of grade 5s can’t do basic maths.

2. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, in her first six months of her third term in office, has failed to comply with the 2016 Norms and Standards deadline for school infrastructure to eradicate 9000 pit toilets at schools.

3. The annual matric pass rate should not hide the grim fact that the number of matrics who drop out before sitting their exams has been increasing. In 2015, there were 23,389 matrics who dropped out before sitting their exams. By 2018 this number had risen to 131,067.

4. In 2009, 972 909 entered the system at grade 2. In 2019, 504 303 or 52% of these wrote the matric. Of these 409 998 or 42% passed. Only 186 058 or 19% of these obtained a Bachelor Pass. This means the pass rate is 42% of the original number who were in grade 2 in 2009.

5. Facts do not back the narrative that the kids who drop out at grade 10 and 11 pursue studies at the TVET colleges. 95% of all students registered in these institutions have a matric certificate.

6. The TVET colleges are more dysfunctional than even the basic education schools with only a 5% pass rate.

7. The enrolment of both maths and science declined by 4% between 2018 and 2019. This means a lesser number of kids will find it more challenging to pursue studies that will increase their employability levels. This happening at the time when the country already finds itself in the middle of the job, letting 4IR.

Most worryingly, we live in a country where even graduates struggle to find jobs. There is little or no hope that the thousands of school-leavers find a job in a country where youth unemployment is as high as 58% for those less than 24 years of age.

Unless all of these structural crises facing our education are addressed, the youth will continue to have their future stolen from them.