Licence to will the future

Yet another year, same old story for the national education system. More than 700000 matric candidates will know today whether or not they have earned the licence to seek employment or further their education in the new year.

Yet another year, same old story for the national education system. More than 700000 matric candidates will know today whether or not they have earned the licence to seek employment or further their education in the new year.

Unfortunately, some of them will not have much to celebrate as they ponder the prospect of having to take a second dig at the exam next year.

Among those who will have to spend yet another year trying to pass matric will be thousands of bright children who would otherwise have passed with flying colours but have to repeat for reasons beyond their control. Among them are victims of an apartheid legacy that continues to bedevil our education system, and our nation, 12 years into our democracy. Our hearts go out to them.

The integrity of the examinations process was dented over the past decade because of leaks, cheating, poor coordination and the questionable quality of the papers.

But things are beginning to look up owing to concerted efforts to reverse dysfunction in schools, and improve teachers' and pupils' morale.

The raised standard and quality of the papers, includes the institution of common, nationally set questionnaires in such key subjects as mathematics, accounting, physical science and history.

No major glitches were recorded this year. This is a welcome relief from the unseemly situation in 2004, when hundreds of pupils across Mpumalanga were adjudged to have cheated, some with the collusion of teachers.

Sadly, sitting for the examinations in the 12th year of a hard slog can determine the colour of a young person's future. While outcomes-based education has been introduced in almost all the lower grades, Grade 12 is still the one band where pupils have to virtually fight their way to glory, or misery.

Sadly, this is the time of the year when people are most fragile, especially pupils who sat for the examinations, and who discover that they did not do well. This is also the time, therefore, to be compassionate, supportive and empathise with those who will not be rejoicing.

Above all, those who did not make it this time should not question their self-worth. Vital as it is, matric is not worth dying for.

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