Stats SA Estimates Almost 20 Million Adult in South Africa Are Without A Matric Qualification


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Approximately 31% of South Africans are not qualified for further and higher education - this excludes them from a wide range of skilled and professional areas of employment. In a country with a 32.1% national unemployment rate - this education crisis is clear. 

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Education is a vital pillar for a thriving society. It has the potential to shape minds, expand opportunities and drive progress – for individuals, their communities, and society at large. But with the long legacy of inequality in this country, many South Africans have been unable to attain their matric certificate for a number of reasons.

Results of Census 2022 show that only 37.6% of the South African population have completed matric. This is a highly concerning number - especially when we consider that the lack of a matric qualification has been linked to poorer earning capacity, further unemployment, and financial instability.

As a country and a concerned society, we need to provide attainable opportunities for those who were unable (or never given the opportunity) to complete their matric in their high school journey.The Department of Basic Education’s (DBE’s) Amended Senior Certificate (ASC) programme provides these individuals with this second chance at a more promising future. 

As per Youth Capital’s research, at any given time, there are about 250,000 people working towards a matric certificate outside the full-time, in-school system. Since an average of 800,000 candidates write matric examinations each year, this means that about a third of the total matric cohort are ‘on the fringe’ or ‘non-traditional’ learners. 

Yet, as second-chancers, the educational journeys of these non-traditional learners often go unrecognised. Despite their grit and perseverance, second-chance matrics are rarely reported on publicly. 

In their tireless quest to innovate and be at the forefront of creating an equitable and innovative education system on the continent, UCT Online High School announced the launch of an 18-month Adult Matric programme delivered entirely online in August of 2022 at a cost of R2,195 per month. 

The Adult Matric programme has provided a second chance for those who were unable, or never given the opportunity, to write their National Senior Certificate (NSC) when they were young — because it’s never too late to enable a better future for themselves, and their families.

Unfortunately, in today’s difficult economic climate and widening unemployment it has proven difficult for these individuals to even afford the programme’s highly-competitive cost of R2,195 per month. UCT Online High School’s application data to date shows that the largest deterrent for these second chance learners is still the situation of low affordability. 


What is the Amended Senior Certificate (ASC) or Adult Matric?

The Amended Senior Certificate (ASC), which is often referred to as the Senior Certificate (SC) or self-study adult matric. The DBE recognises the ASC as a full equivalent to the NSC that’s awarded to all learners in South African high schools who complete Grade 12 via the CAPS curriculum.

And like the NSC, the ASC follows the CAPS curriculum, and you are awarded the matric certificate once it’s completed.

To register for the Amended Senior Certificate (ASC), individuals must be 21 years or older at the time of sitting for the exam. To complete the Amended Senior Certificate (ASC), individuals need to register with the DBE and write a final exam for only six subjects.

There are no internal SBAs, which means that the final exams count 100% for the final matric results. The Amended Senior Certificate (ASC) can take anywhere from one to two (and sometimes more) years to complete.

Most adult learners complete the ASC part-time, so the length of time taken to complete it can be longer. And while they can complete their studies from anywhere, they must sit for their exams in South Africa.

Why should second chance learners achieve an Amended Senior Certificate (ASC)? 

  • It offers the chance to further their education as it means they can study further at a tertiary level and can pursue studies for vocational education and training. 
  • It allows them to broaden their career opportunities as a matric certificate is the minimum requirement for many jobs and further workplace advancements
  • It boosts their confidence and self-worth by equipping them with new knowledge, skills and experience
  • They can work and study at the same time due to the flexibility which allows them to structure their study time around existing commitments

What final marks do these learners need to achieve their Amended Senior Certificate (ASC)?

To achieve their ASC, learners must obtain:

  • at least 40% in three subjects including their Home Language subject 
  • at least 30% in the remaining two subjects including their First Additional Language or Home Language subjects
  • a sub-minimum of 20% in the sixth subject.

Who is eligible for the Amended Senior Certificate (ASC)?

GROUP 1: Adult learners who are 21 years and older when sitting for the exam, who have one of the following:

  • a General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) for Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET)
  • a Grade 9 (or Standard 7) school report stating that you have passed Grade 9 (or Standard 7)
  • a recognised equivalent qualification obtained at NQF Level 1 which requires two official South African languages.

GROUP 2: Adult learners who are 21 years and older when sitting for the exam, who have already passed some subjects for an ASC or NSC, who:

  • need to complete an ASC qualification
  • have an incomplete NSC and whose School-based Assessment (SBA) has expired
  • completed the NSC in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

GROUP 3: (Exceptional Cases Only) Out-of-school youth that are 18 to 20 years old can apply to the Head of Education in the province to write the exams if they have one of the following:

  • a General Education and Training Certificate (GETC) for Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET)
  • a Grade 9 (or Standard 7) school report stating that you have passed Grade 9 (or Standard 7)
  • a recognised equivalent qualification obtained at NQF Level 1 which requires two official South African languages.

UCT Online High School is here to celebrate and support these learners, and the Adult Matric programme offers a viable and affordable alternative for adults to study online, and part-time, towards their CAPS-aligned Amended Senior Certificate (ASC).

A matric certificate can transform young and old people’s futures alike, by signalling their knowledge and skills to employers, creating pathways to further education, and ultimately improving their chances of finding work, keeping a job, and earning a higher salary. 

How does the UCT Online High School Adult Matric programme help prepare learners for the final exams?

The Adult Matric Programme has been designed using the principles of “structured flexibility”. This means learners have the freedom to organise their study time around their other commitments.

UCT Online High School provides learners with a support structure that’ll help them on their journey to obtain their ASC. This includes the following:

  • A dedicated Support Advisor who is available for any administrative queries and who will empower learners to optimise the way they work and take advantage of learning online. They are available from Monday to Friday (excluding South African Public Holidays) between 8:00am and 5:00pm.
  • Work plans for each of their subjects, which help them to manage their time and workload. Work plans serve as to-do lists that guide them in completing tasks and meeting deadlines.
  • Sign-posting and wrap-up videos for each subject, which highlight key outcomes and takeaways, and situate their lessons in the broader context of their learning.
  • Termly revision modules that highlight the most important examinable content from the previous term and provide them with opportunities to consolidate and apply their knowledge.
  • Mastery Checks that will show them whether they have achieved an appropriate level of competence for each module across all of their subjects.
  • Technical support from their Technical Support Team who are available Monday to Friday (excluding South African Public Holidays) between 8:00am and 5:00pm.

UCT Online High School isn’t just a school, it’s the backbone of an entire ecosystem which has been designed to service learners of all ages from a broad range of socioeconomic and academic means. They believe in a brighter future for all, and they’re doing everything that they can to make it happen.

They’re calling on future changemakers, young and old, to join their innovative learning journey and make their future official. 

Interested adult learners can visit the UCT Online High School Adult Matric page and download the Adult Matric programme info pack or the Adult Matric informative guide here. Applications open until 6 April 2024.  

Adult learners share their experiences and the want for a successful future

UCT Online High School has received an influx of inspirational stories from adults wanting to grow their own success for a better future:

  • ‘’l think to have a matric is a good start for everyone. Matric is a foundation for all your dreams ,it unlocks everything you can dream about.’’’ - Thokozani
  • ‘’I am the only breadwinner in the house. Due to my mother's illness she is unable to work. I have been working for the Department of Health and it feels like I am going nowhere as a clerk. I want something that is more of a challenge.’’ - Judy
  • ‘’I strongly believe in second chances. I may have not done well on my first matric but I believe I can still do Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery Medicine and Surgery. My name is Zemvelo and I am 22 years old. My goal is to one day do Medicine studies and be a Cardiologist.’’ - Zemvelo
  • ‘’I haven't finished matric due to my mother that passed away but worked myself up from a waitress to a now administrator at Ford Dealership, I would like to further my studies as it's never to late.’’ - Kauthar
  • ‘’I finished school after failing Grade 9 and immediately started working. Since 22 years of age, I have always been in a management position in a variety of fields and business sectors. Yet, without a matric I still feel incomplete and dream jobs still require a matric certificate even though my range of experience is limitless. Having a matric certificate will open a range of opportunities and better the life of my family.’’ - Graham
  • ‘’I have been looking for this opportunity for a quite long, when I heard about the start of the UCT online high school l felt there is always a second chance, it might not be me because of the challenges, but many out there, I wish to be part of this noble program because it'll unlock new opportunities, and change my life permanently.’’ - Adam

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