Chief Executive Officer of the Independent Examinations Board (IEB), Anne Oberholzer, said the great tragedy with South African education was that too many pupils were still being lost in the system.
Oberholzer was commenting after the release of the IEB results for 2017, when 98.76 percent of the pupils who wrote the examinations passed. In addition, 88 percent of the pupils who sat the examinations secured a bachelor’s pass. The IEB results would suggest that the vast majority of IEB candidates are academically inclined and that they should breeze through university.
However, that will not necessarily be the case for many of those who sat National Senior Certificate examinations in government schools. For many of those pupils, university will not be an option and the harsh reality, in the South African context, is that they will have limited options when their high school lives are over.
“Because of the absence of a range of institution types to choose from after schooling‚ and even within the further education and training sector‚ we lose many young people along the way,” said Oberholzer.
“It is not useful for everyone to be focused solely on a university education‚ possibly neglecting their real strengths‚ in the false belief that a degree is the only vehicle to a secure and successful life,” added Oberholzer.
However, that does not mean that those who do not qualify for university study should give up. She reminded pupils that there were still options, albeit somewhat limited.
“It is this lack of opportunity to accommodate the diversity of talents among South African learners that contributes to the excessively high number of learners who leave the education system without any qualification at all,” added Oberholzer.
The South African government is trying to increase those options, by increasing access to TVET and FET Colleges, but there are problems there too.
“Access to a range of specialisation options – sports academies‚ schools of music and the performing arts‚ dedicated functional colleges for technical study‚ construction and mechanics‚ institutions dedicated to ICT‚ schools that specialise in maths‚ science and engineering‚ hotel and hospitality schools‚ language schools – are almost unheard of in South Africa and yet specialised schools‚ comprehensive high schools that accommodate a breadth of opportunities and functional TVET colleges are fairly commonplace in many countries,” explained Oberholzer.
“Possibly the most important development is a recognition that the knowledge‚ skills and abilities nurtured in a traditional educational pathway and at traditional mass education institutions are not the only route to success.”