To grade twelve learners, we live in a competitive world


MY YOUNGER BROTHER, ALONG WITH MORE than 700 000 candidates, writes his matric exams this year.  I called him prior his first paper, to wish him only the best and gave him a few advices on how to do well. But I couldn’t stop imagining the enormous pressure endured by these learners every year. For each and every learner, grade twelve determines the future to an extent. When I was at this grade I feared to fail, so much that I did all I could to pass. But looking back, I realize that I wasn’t really prepared for matric. Eleven years were not properly used to prepare me for grade twelve. There are many reasons why this was so. Obviously the environment where I come from counts a lot. Be it my family, the community and perhaps even the teachers. In most of these eleven years I performed very inconsistently. Sometimes I’d excel and maybe in most cases do poorly. It is now that I realize I should have learned to work productively right from the early years of schooling. I’m sure that would have made a big difference on the matric certificate I now own.

Enough said about my disappointing school career. It’s been a challenging year for these learners. And now that they’ve reached this pivotal time of the year, I think it’s very important to remind them that they are about to land on the world of opportunities. But a search for these opportunities will not be easy. We now live in a very globalized, digital and competitive world. It’s a world where education matters, like never before. All decent jobs available today require a skilled workforce. Technology and globalization have shrunk the world significantly in the last thirty years. During the Cold War era, we had small, closed and poorly-performing economies around the entire world. Since the clash of ideologies subsided more than twenty years ago, globalization has harnessed the world to a level that they will find themselves competing with a skilled worker from Zimbabwe or The Philippines, for a job based in South Africa.  To remain relevant and competitive in this labor market, they’ll have to further undertake trainings to enhance their skills. It is their responsibility, not government’s.

I didn’t do well in grade twelve, especially in mathematics. It’s hard to look at my certificate because it reminds me how ignorant I was at school level. But it’s all in the past now and there’s nothing I can do about it, except to continue working tirelessly to prove to myself and to many people out there that I’m better than what I was back then. I hope this year’s class won’t feel the same two years later. But it all lies on their shoulders, and to others it may already be too late to improve their work this year.

I can’t wait to live in a South Africa that ranks among the top in maths, science and reading in developing countries. But I’m just being hopeful; I doubt it will happen in my lifetime. That will require many changes in our education system. But this year’s class represents that hope. The result will probably not be perfect, but it will help us understand how much work we have to do in improving our education.

To all grade twelve leaners, I just want to say: Good luck and remember that Education plus God equals to Success. PM


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