While thousands of matriculates from the class of 2015 will search for work this year, a report argues that the certificate they hold is not valuable enough to get meaningful employment.
The report, published by trade union Solidarity, said: “One of the major problems with the matric exam is that the requirements for a pass are simply too low, robbing the certificate of much of its potential value.”
The Solidarity Research Institute said the modern economy requires far more knowledge from young people than that offered by way of a matric certificate.
It noted that matriculants only have to pass one official language subject at home language level with 40% or higher. Two other subjects, Life Orientation excluded, need to be passed with 40% or higher.
A further three subjects must be passed with 30% or higher, and one subject may be failed.
Therefore, the lowest simple average pass mark for a matriculant is 30%, although realistically, the lowest actual pass mark will be closer to 40%.
Even so, an average of 40% is too low to have any value in the job market or to serve as preparation for tertiary studies, stated the union.
“The fact that the pass mark is so low engenders a lack of confidence in the standard of all
the matriculants’ qualifications, including those who do achieve good marks,” it said.
Good language skills are required for nearly any task or type of job, but obtaining 40% for a language is definitely not “good”. Being mathematically literate is also important, but again not at a 30% or even a 40% level, the report said.
The value of a matric certificate does not only vary according to the average mark obtained but also according to the subjects taken.
“One of the reasons why so many people with a matric certificate struggle to find a job or earn low salaries when they do have a job, is simply that they either did not take the right subjects or that they failed to reach the required standard in the right subjects for the certificate to show that they have actually acquired something valuable during their school careers.”
It said that for a subject like Tourism, 97.5% of students achieved 30% or higher in 2014, and 83.2% achieved above 40%. Similarly, for Life Orientation, figures of 99.6% and 97.8% were achieved.
However, for Business Studies, only 53.8% of candidates achieved more than 40%, while 44.3% achieved higher than 40% for Accounting.
Only 207,659 full-time candidates sat the Business Studies exam.
Of the 532,860 full-time matrics of 2014, the marks were as follows:
“Without further education, the majority of 2015’s matriculants’ certificates will unfortunately be of little value,” the report warned.
Solidarity pointed out that a matric certificate does serve as an administrative requirement for most types of tertiary studies and is also needed to gain access to some professions.
“Apart from that, it is of little practical value.”
“A certificate or diploma in many technical and career-orientated fields, obtained from a credible institution, may be even more valuable than a matric certificate.”