An educational qualification can make all the difference to our chances of finding and keeping a job, as well as earning a higher salary. But too many of us drop out of school, college or university before qualifying. To add to this, some of us studying towards occupational (N6) diplomas cannot complete our qualifications because of poor access to workplace-based learning. To receive a recognised diploma, we must undertake workplace-based internships. But without the right support, this is nearly impossible. Most educational institutions expect us to find placements on our own, and relationships between colleges and employers are weak.
Read more about workplace-based learning in Unlock Jobs: Clearing Roadblocks to Youth Employment.
Even when we do complete our qualifications, we might struggle to prove it.
Until recently, those of us who left school before Grade 12 received no formal qualification to demonstrate our education. The newly-introduced General Education Certificate (GEC) provides certification that could help us.
The Second Chance Matric Programme by the Department of Basic Education is an available pathway for those of us who didn’t pass their matric exam, never reached matric or want to upgrade their matric results. The research brief Matrics ‘on the Fringe’ shows that 250 000 young people are attempting to obtain their matric certificate through the Second Chance Matric Programme, outside of the full-time schooling system; but these young people receive limited support in accessing and preparing for the programme.
Those of us who finish matric might still struggle to access our certificates. In January 2020, the MEC for Education in Gauteng announced that 7,066 South African matriculants would not be receiving their national senior certificates, because they didn’t have IDs. Meanwhile, almost 5,000 foreign citizens would also have their matric certificates withheld, because they couldn’t present the right documents. There have been further reports of schools, colleges and universities withholding certificates because of outstanding fees.
Without these certificates, we are often locked out of further education and employment. Most employers see educational qualifications as the most trustworthy way to assess our knowledge and skills. So, completing qualifications, and having the certificates to prove it, makes all the difference to our futures.
The #CertifyUs Call to Action.
We need support to complete our qualifications, and to receive our certificates on time.
Leaving school, college or university without a qualification makes it nearly impossible for us to demonstrate our capabilities. This locks us out of education, training and work opportunities. It also means that the public money invested in our education is not paying off — not for us, not for our families and not for the country as a whole.
What could improved certification support look like?
By supporting young people in obtaining their education certification, we can improve their outcomes. What does that look like? For example, imagine if high schools and education district offices ensure we receive our General Education and our National Senior Certificates. Or if the conditions for workplace-based learning were more realistic for all South African workplaces to accommodate students. What if educational institutions commit to making sure every single graduate gets their certificate, no matter their historical debt?
Your voice counts.
As young people, your experiences are essential in shaping solutions in how to best support young South Africans in obtaining their certificates, and moving on their journey towards employment and training opportunities. Our voices are stronger when they’re together!
Join our Campaigners Group on WhatsApp, where you can share your experiences with other dynamic people; or join our Facebook Squad Group and meet proactive young people; or join our Campaigners’ newsletter,so that you can stay in the loop with recent campaigns and events.