Matric Failure: Getting back on track without losing hope

The future may look bleak and uncertain to the more than 170 000 Grade 12s who failed their 2018 National Senior Certificate exams, but it would be a huge mistake for them to throw in the towel and resign themselves to the idea that no Matric means no hope for the future, an education expert says.

“Of course it is preferable to obtain your Matric certificate, and we will always encourage young people to continue working towards doing so, but that doesn’t mean your life has to stand still in the meantime,” says Alvino Hartley, Team Leader at Oxbridge Academy, which serves more than 20 000 South African distance learning students every year.

He says many people don’t realise that there are various study options, particularly vocational ones that are in high demand in the workplace, that don’t require a Matric certificate.

“If you can be resilient in the face of this setback, and vow to not put your education on the backburner but rather work hard towards a goal you can become passionate about, you have a recipe for success on your hands,” he says.

Hartley says that no matter what the outcome of one’s final exams were, there are always options, and sometimes finding the right way forward just requires some research.

“You may want to redo a subject or two, complete failed subjects via distance learning, redo Matric in a year or two, or perhaps even find a qualification that doesn’t require an NSC for enrolment,” he says.

“Find what you are passionate about, and then determine how you can still reach your goal within the next three to four years. Yes, it is not ideal if you didn’t pass, but it also does not mean that this ‘failure’ needs to define who you are and what you can achieve for the rest of your life.”

Hartley says that instead of allowing ‘failure’ to define you, the experience should be used as a learning opportunity and inspiration to do better in future.

Additionally, Matric failure should not serve as a limit check on one’s aspirations for the future.

“You can and must still dream big. If you didn’t before, do so now. Once you have a vision for your future, you start building it. Like a house – one brick at a time.”

For many who failed Matric, heading right back to school to redo the year may not be an option, for various reasons.

In these instances, the Matric goal can be pursued in parallel with other goals, or postponed until after achieving a vocational qualification, says Hartley.

“A vocational qualification makes you more employable, by providing the specific skills and theoretical knowledge required in fields such as, for instance, project management, health and safety, logistics and supply chain management, and contact centre operations. All of the aforementioned qualifications can be completed without having a Matric certificate and via distance learning, which means that you can even start earning while you’re learning,” he says.

Another option is to do an Introductory N4.

“Also called a bridging course, this will give you access to N4 National Qualifications. Students who haven’t completed Matric do the Intro N4 courses and, once they pass the examinations, they cross over to the N4 courses. Once they have passed N4, they can progress to N5 and N6, after which they can apply to the Department of Higher Education and Training for a National Diploma, provided that they have gained 18 months of relevant practical experience,” says Hartley.

Passing an N4 level qualification is comparable to Matric. And persevering through N4 to N5 will make you more employable than someone who only has a Matric certificate, says Hartley.

“The message is this: You have your whole life ahead of you and you still have time on your side. If you act now to start building your vision brick by brick, investing in your future and believing in yourself, the time will arrive when you look back at your Matric disappointment and see that it wasn’t a brick wall barring you from a successful life, but rather an unexpected door to new and exciting opportunities to turn your dreams into reality.”

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