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Post-matric pupils have been offered a lifeline by a new project called The Skills for a Changing World Programme, piloted by the University of the Free State.
The project is aimed at the thousands who fail to qualify for post-school education and training, because of low marks.
The 2008 Grade 12 results showed that the schooling system is in the throes of a severe crisis.
The most disturbing feature of this crisis is that the system does not produce pupils with the required level of literacy, numeracy and other cognitive skills to further their education or to become part of the country's workforce.
The project, funded by the Ford Foundation and being piloted at UFS, seeks to provide these pupils with an alternative.
The UFS and partners in the Free State Higher Education Consortium (FSHEC) plan to help under-prepared and even unprepared school-leavers who have fallen through the cracks of the school system.
"We are hoping to make a meaningful contribution to the challenging field of creating educational opportunities for post-school study and the world of work through the generous support of the Ford Foundation," said Merridy Wilson-Strydom, a research consultant at the Centre for Higher Education Studies and Development at the UFS.
"The Skills for a Changing World Programme is specifically aimed at removing barriers to educational opportunities for school-leavers who are not able to access higher education - mainstream or extended degrees. At the moment there are few, if any, meaningful opportunities for those pupils who come through the school system under-prepared," she said.
The primary target group for the NQF level 5 programme is young people aged 18 to 25 who are currently excluded from post-schooling educational opportunities. The duration of the programme will be one year.