Source: HSRC


The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) extends heartfelt congratulations to the matric class of 2023 for their outstanding performance. Recognizing the significance of education in shaping the future workforce, SAFTU applauds the efforts of both students and educators in achieving this remarkable milestone. We further recognise that it could not have been possible without the support of parents and guardians.

According to the Department of Basic Education (DBE), there is a 2.8 percentage point surge in the pass rate, reaching an 82.9%. Even more impressive, is the notable advancement in bachelor passes. This is commendable, especially considering that this is the cohort of learners who lost learning and teaching time during Covid-19.

The results underscore the dedication and resilience of students in overcoming challenges posed by the academic year. The achievement not only reflects the commitment of students but also signifies the ongoing efforts of the education system to enhance academic outcomes.

Fault in the education system

Out of the total that wrote 2023 National Senior Certificate (NSC), 118 177 learners failed. This rounds off to 17,1%. However, this is an understatement of the learners who could not successfully complete the basic education within the stipulated learning cycle. Experts have reported that 450 000 learners of this cohort have quit school before reaching matric. This means 568 177 learners who started school in 2012 could not complete it successfully.

The sorry state of education, highlighted by the lack of Learning and Teaching Support Material, shortage of teachers and infrastructure backlog, has created an environment that is not conducive for learning and teaching. For instance, 16 714 schools do not have libraries, 18 671 are without laboratories and 14 949 do not have computer centres.

Many schools in rural provinces still lack things that are basic such as textbooks, stationery, and desks. Classrooms in some schools are overcrowded due to lack of educators. The recent report of the Public Protector highlighted that Loyiso Secondary School in the Eastern Cape had 164 learners in a Grade 10 classroom, 121 in a Grade 8 classroom and 116 in Grade 9. It is clear from this state of affairs that there is no conducive learning environment for learners, and that these conditions will breed failure and despair amongst learners.

Socio-economic factors outside schools also contributes to learner failure and the overwhelming number of the learner drop-out that is being experienced in basic education. Learners from poor and dysfunctional families tend to have disciplinary issues than learners from well-off families, which affects their concentration in classrooms and the amount of time they invest in studying.

In the final analysis, poverty and the absence of parents in the educational journey of their kids is due to capitalism and the spatial development of apartheid. Capitalism’s pursuit of surplus has lengthened the working day, whilst the apartheid spatial development has located workers far from their residential areas. Combined, these factors mean some parents are working longer hours and have to travel between the business centres and residential areas, arriving home late and often exhausted.

Some of the unemployed parents resort to drinking to cope with the inability to look after their families and humiliation that accompanies pauperism. Such drunkenness defocuses parents from supervising their children and even attending important parents’ meetings at school.

SAFTU calls on government to increase its expenditure to eradicate the infrastructure backlog in schools and to hire more educators. Further, we must fight to abolish capitalism, so that workers can have adequate time for their families and children.

Please follow and like us: