While 2023’s Matric pass rate of 82.9% is cause for celebration, it also means that almost a fifth of students who enrolled for their NSC exams last year didn’t pass. There is however real hope for these students, and the hundreds of thousands of other South Africans who still don’t have a Matric certificate, an education expert says.
“Earning your Matric certificate or pursuing further study is always within reach, if you can deal with the mental and logistical barriers preventing you from continuing your academic and personal development journey,” says Siyavuya Makubalo, Marketing Manager at Oxbridge Academy, a brand of ADvTECH, SA’s leading private education provider.
She says there are a number of myths around studying as a mature student which, when carefully scrutinised, don’t hold water.
“These include lack of time, lack of confidence in your ability to be successful, concerns about the labour market and unemployment rate, as well as misconceptions about being an older student,” she says.
Makubalo says a recent Oxbridge graduate blows many of these misconceptions out of the water, and stands as proof of the ability to be successful and reach your dreams no matter your age.
Dawid Bekker, at the age of 44, decided to rewrite his life story by enrolling for Matric at Oxbridge Academy. He successfully passed his exams last year and, upon receipt of his Matric certificate, enrolled for the Human Resource Management N4 to begin his journey to earn a National N Diploma.
“Dawid’s inspiring tale serves as a beacon of hope, proving that it’s never too late to pursue your dreams and redefine your path,” says Makubalo.
“Dawid was motivated by a strong desire to rejoin the academic world and stand shoulder to shoulder with colleagues and friends. The decision to complete his Senior Certificate (As Amended) at 44 not only marked the fulfilment of an educational milestone but also reignited a profound sense of belonging and accomplishment. He continues to demonstrate to himself and others that age is no obstacle when it comes to achieving lifelong dreams. And his story is a powerful reminder that the pursuit of knowledge is timeless, and every stage of life offers opportunities for growth and personal fulfilment.”
Makubalo says achieving your Matric certificate or pursuing further study is within most people’s reach, regardless of their age or station in life. She says some of the obstacles unnecessarily preventing people from taking action include:
Concerns about time and flexibility: Mature students often have other commitments, such as work, family, or caring responsibilities, that make it difficult to fit in studying. However this can be overcome by studying online or via distance learning through a reputable institution.
Lack of confidence: Mature students may feel that the ship has sailed and that they are not academically prepared or capable of succeeding in higher education, especially if they have been out of formal education for a long time. However a quality institution which provides flexibility and superior support will facilitate a successful academic journey.
Lack of motivation: Mature students may not see the value of pursuing their Matric certificate or further education, and may have reconciled themselves to where they are in life even while knowing they didn’t live up to their potential. However furthering your education offers a range of benefits including improved self-image through self-actualisation, increased knowledge, skills, and income and career opportunities that can enhance personal wellbeing.
Lack of financial resources: Mature students may face financial barriers to accessing higher education. However there are avenues that make further education affordable, and modes of study such as distance and online learning that increases access to quality education.
“Finally, mature students may feel that given SA’s high unemployment rate, and potential age-bias on the part of employers, their chances of finding work in their field of study are limited,” Makubalo says.
“However showing that you successfully pursued your studies against the odds is proof to hiring managers that you have drive and motivation and that you are able to commit and see things through. These are attractive qualities for any employer, and will position you well not despite of, but because of your age.”