Matric is a culmination of 12 years of learning.
Ten years ago in 2013, I was counted among the last cohort of matric learners who would experience the rush of awaiting the publication of their matric outcomes in a newspaper. I still remember vividly the eve of the papers being printed and how we had gathered at a nearby garage. We huddled in song, with great excitement and nerve, waiting to receive the paper. It was an exciting time of our success story and a moment in which we naively also anchored so many of our aspirations and hopes of what the future would represent for us. Passing matric meant the world was not only our oyster but the sky a limit we could easily surpass. This idea sounds great in theory, but ten years later, one learns how success is a gradual reality, and rarely is it sustainable through the efforts of one individual, it takes the efforts of a community.
Upon learning of the end of the culture of printing newspapers, I reflected on it as a great victory for the young people who have had to live on with the trauma and shame they carried once they learnt that they had not passed.
I don’t imagine that anyone who passed on that eve, still dotes on or treasures the few hours of excitement we shared, we have moved on, and life went on. We are now confronted with new realities of what it means to succeed and how to measure it, but most importantly, we have learnt the heart of what matters the most in our success story, is not just the efforts of one individual but the contribution of our greater community, this is an important truth that continues to confront our country.
In South Africa there is still is a collective excitement shared by the country on the matric outcomes, unfortunate tones of tribalism also tend to find expression as many take to social media to compare their home Provinces against the results of others. We share in the excitement and aspirations of young people who after 12 years of school are met with the excitement and nerve of what awaits them beyond the doors of basic education.
Collective comradery is a profound aspect of our culture and nature as South Africans, but there seems to be a misplaced prioritisation of what it really means to have matric results and how to best critically reflect on the outcomes of matric learners. Yes, the young people’s individual efforts through the support of their schools did themselves proud, but their success is not an isolated event of 12 months of learning. It’s a consequence of 12 years of the schooling system that had to happen under different contexts of learning the young people were exposed to, firstly at school but more closely in their direct communities and homes.
There are macro problems that have had a direct effect on the quality of matriculants we get. Matric results are a reflection on all of us, the political atmosphere in the country, as well as unequal access to quality resources, all impact the success of a learner. The outcomes we learn of in numbers tell a bigger story qualitatively when we look at the demographic, gender and even race and class realities of those who are successful vs those that are not.
It is no secret that the challenges faced in our country from load-shedding, water-shedding, the inadequacies of our transport system, safety of our children and access to digitalised and globally compatible tools of learning coupled with the limitation in the imagination of custodians of our learners’ basic education, affect the quality of learners we produce.
So, the question we need to ask is, what the class of 2022 in the last 12 years has had to deal with and in their final trial of assessment, what circumstances were they faced with that affected their final examination in answering this we create a different barometer to measure their success and one can only hope that this would even comfort those who find themselves unsuccessful in the 2022 academic year.
Youth network ACTIVATE! Change drivers makes a strong case as a development hub for young people who in their schooling years, were actively engaged in making a positive difference in their lives, livelihoods, family and society. The network has sustained a legacy of a decade and beyond, that has partnered with young people and supports their efforts beyond the doors of learning.
ACTIVATE! has given young people a door into the school of life that encourages collaboration, connecting with the youth demographic and leverage off each other’s skills and capabilities to realise the change in our societies.
Until we measure success differently and we shift our focus on the final leg of the assessment, we will always find ourselves wanting when it comes to how and why so many of our learners fail to reach the pass mark, even when it is a low 30%.
About the Author:
Zamayirha Peter is a Communications Practioner, Speaker, Journalist and Social entrepreneur.