If you don’t have a Matric Certificate, you may feel that every one of your school mates is flying high in a top job, or at least employable. The truth is vastly different - according to 2008 statistics - in that out of every 40 pupils who start out together, 31 don’t get their Matric and only 2 gain a university exemption.

This is what the new Higher Education and Training Minister is referring to when he mentions fair access and opening up certification alongside Matric, so as emphasise higher education in South Africa.

According to the above stats out of the approximate 1.56 million six year olds who entered the school system twelve years ago 535 000 young adults left school without a Matric. But that doesn’t leave them without options. There are a large number of private colleges and institutions who offer bridging courses in school grades.

Intec College is a distance education centre offering business, technical studies and vocational diplomas for students seeking matric and tertiary-level qualifications. Materials are designed specifically for home study, and while it is an affordable easy option, Intec offers comprehensive student support, qualified tutors and career advice. For more information, visit them online.

Damelin offers Higher Education learning programmes that fall within Levels 5 – 8 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), and include degree and postgraduate programmes, as well as Higher Education Certificates and Diplomas. They also offer Further Education and Training, which consists of all learning and training programmes from levels 2 to 4 on the NQF, or the equivalent of Grades 10 – 12 in the school system. That means you can get your Matric Certificate from one of the best known and most well respected learning institutions in South Africa. To register with them, visit their website

Abbotts College specialises in guiding learners through Grade 10, 11 and 12, with campuses in the Western Cape and Gauteng. Abbotts strengths lie in their small classes, daily routines and supervision, while every student has a personal mentor to ensure a high standard of academic achievement. They also offer an extremely wide spectrum of subjects for those seeking unusual employment. Click here to read more about the College.

In terms of adult literacy, KhaRiGude (let us learn) is a Literacy Campaign launched by the previous Education Minister, Naledi Pandor. It is intended to enable the 4.7 million illiterate adults who missing out on their schooling to learn to read and write by the end of 2012. The website reports, “It is through this campaign that the developmental state welcomes new learners to the portals of learning.” Visit KhaRiGude for more information.

For 2008's annual youth month celebrations, Western Cape Education MEC, Cameron Dugmore, gave ten practical steps for young people trying to empower themselves. They were:
- Stay at school or get your finish matric
- Attend an FET college
- Study at an adult education centre
- Go to university
- Get a qualification through a learnership
- Go on an internship
- Start a business
- Join the army or police service
- Study to become a teacher
- Volunteer your time

Bear in mind that your local FET College and community colleges offer practical courses such as how to start your own business, bricklaying, carpenting, plumbing and much mroe. Often courses run for shorter periods of time, such as weeks and months, rather than for three or four years - which means lower tuition rates. You don’t always need a matric certificate to study at an FET College, as their diplomas are designed with basic mathematical and language literacy in mind. Try to find someone who has done the course you’re interested in and talk to them before you register.

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