By Edwin Tshivhidzo
Education Minister Naledi Pandor has wished all the Grade 12 learners well in their examinations which kicked off on Wednesday.
About 599 048 learners are sitting for matric examinations across 8 000 centres.
"These 599 048 learners are our vital investment in the future of this country,' the minister said, adding that as a nation we collectively wish each and every Grade 12 learner well as they embark on the writing of this crucial examination.
In 2005, 533 405 learners enrolled to write the Senior Certificate, in 2006 the enrolment was 554 079 and now in 2007 it is 599 048.
These figures illustrate the significant increases in the past three years.
The minister reminded the learners that they have reached the last lap of the race and many opportunities await all those who have committed time and energy to their studies.
The Ministry of Education wishes every candidate great success in the 2007 Senior Certificate examination.
"I urge you to be calm in this period and to seek assistance from school, family and friends if you feel any anxiety,' the minister added.
Despite the challenges that confronted in 2007, the minister said she was appreciative of the additional effort and sacrifices that were made by learners, parents, administrators and teachers.
"I am pleased to see that each year growing numbers of young South Africans write the Senior Certificate examinations and that more and more learners succeed,' Minister Pandor said.
The 2007 examination is the last fully-fledged examination that will be based on the current curriculum.
This year?s Grade 12 learners are the last group of pupils who will write based on the old education curriculum, as it is being phased out this year
"I am confident that the Class of 2007 will view this as their special opportunity to raise our performance as a country to the highest level,' she said.
The Department of Education earlier announced that there will be examinations in May/June in 2008 for those learners that may still need to complete their outstanding subjects.
The department has also established a special support programme to ensure that all learners in the system complete the Senior Certificate before March 2011.
The first National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations will be written in 2008, but learners will be given until 2011 to phase out the old curriculum, in line with the policy on the NCS.
Learners who might fail again in June next year will have up to 2011 to write under the old curriculum as private candidates.