Matric Class of 2023 Is Missing More Than 450 000 Learners

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Almost one million learners are currently writing their final school exams at matric venues around South Africa. Statistics from the Basic Education Department have revealed that hundreds of thousands of learners who should be participating in the critical examinations are not.


The National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams commenced Monday, 30 October 2023. The Department of Basic Education revealed that more than 900 000 grade 12 candidates will be participating in the 2023 final matric exams. 

However, according to the DBE, approximately 458 000 learners who started grade one in 2012 are not sitting to write their matric exams 12 years after beginning their basic education journey.

The Higher Education Department defines the throughput rate as the rate at which a cohort completes a qualification within the stipulated time frame for that qualification. If you apply this to basic education, the throughput rate would refer to the percentage of learners who started Grade 1 twelve years ago and are currently writing their matric exams.

Education Department Statistics

In 2019, the percentage of learners who obtained a NSC, often referred to as the NSC 'throughput rate' - stood at 55%, a figure that increased to 62% in 2022. 

The DBE adds that if the achievement of a  National Certificate (Vocational) Level 4 at a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college is included, the 'throughput rate' increases to 65%. The NCV qualification is equivilent to a NSC. 

It was also revealed that dropout rates are specific to different grade levels, which exhibit a range from a minimal 3% in Grade 7 to a more substantial 9% in Grade 11. 

The above figures have improved over the 20 years and can be expected to improve further. They are not unusual by developing country standards.

The DBE also revealed that the pandemic has contributed to an increase in the number of students reaching Grade 12 successfully. This was in contrast to what was expected when schools had to shut their doors as lockdowns commenced. 

The department says several key initiatives are being implemented to increase the throughput rate in South Africa.  These include a variety of teaching and learning interventions, psycho-social support programs, the implementation of the Global Education Compact (GEC), and more stringent monitoring of school participation.

Phemelo Segoe, Brand and Marketing Manager at Optimi Workplace says while many learners may drop out of school in the senior phase to pursue employment opportunities, dropouts are being recorded across the schooling journey.

They add that high absenteeism learners must also be addressed. This is because they believe socioeconomic factors faced by many learners cannot be ignored.

We cannot continue looking at our matric results or our dropout rate in isolation because unfortunately in a country we’ve got a number of issues that really seep into every area of our lives including education. 

Segoe explains poor performance by learners cannot only be attributed to them being unable to understand the learning material but could be attributed to high absenteeism which is caused by socio-economic factors. 

Suggested Article:

Matric exam timetable

The final exams of their school careers has come for thousands of grade 12 learners. Here's which subjects will round off the 2023 National Senior Certificate exams. 


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Post-Matric Options


After completing your matric certificate exams, you are faced with a multitude of post-matric options that can shape your future paths.

These options range from pursuing higher education at universities or colleges, entering vocational training programs, joining the workforce, or even considering entrepreneurial ventures, each offering unique opportunities for personal and professional growth.

You've probably been contemplating the next chapter of your life all throughout the year asking yourself, 'what am I going to study after I finish completing my matric certificate exams?', 'am I going to study? What else can I do when I pass'? Well, we can help.


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