When schools reopen next week, it will be the start of a new school curriculum for matric students.
The Revised National Curriculum Statement (NCS) comes into effect this year, having been phased in over the last three years. This change has caused uncertainty for pupils who had failed last year's matric examinations.
Penny Vinjevold, deputy director-general for Further Education and Training in the Education Department, said those who had failed last year's matric would not be able to return to school as the curriculum is significantly different to what they were taught.
"If a pupil did not make it, they have to enrol to rewrite only for the subjects that they have failed."
She said the department would embark on a registration drive from January 18, with exams scheduled for May and June.
"We are going to have five-month intensive revision workshops. The SABC is also on board and we will make sure that the pupils pass," Vinjevold said.
Plans for the new curriculum were first mooted in 1995 when the new Curriculum 2005 was developed.
Curriculum 2005 was to be implemented in schools progressively from 1998 to 2005.
A new OBE curriculum - NCS - was developed and had to be implemented in schools from 2004 to 2008.
The NCS is based on the principles of Curriculum 2005 but is more structured and sets out more specifically the content to be taught. Vinjevold said: "The new curriculum for Grades 10 to 12 was phased in over three years.
"It was introduced in Grade 10 in 2006, Grade 11 in 2007 and will be introduced in Grade 12 this year."
One of the major differences between the NCS and the old curriculum is that subjects will only be offered in one grade level.
Presently, subjects in Grade 12 are offered on three grade levels: higher, standard and lower grade. Students will now take the subjects at the same level.
The other major difference is that students would enrol for seven subjects, and should achieve at least 40 percent in three subjects and 30 percent in four subjects to pass matric.
The aggregate mark is not considered in deciding whether students pass or fail. This is done to ensure that pupils pass at least six of the seven subjects and so obtain a broad general education.
All students also have to take maths or maths literacy.
The difference between the two is that the normal maths is more academic while maths literacy is for everyday use.
Zandile Kunene, executive director of the Matthew Goniwe School of Leadership, said that to have a successful schooling system schools should change the way they teach.
Universities should also change the courses they offer to correspond with the curriculum, he said.