With the new school year all ready to kick off into 2017, we need to say congratulations to everyone who laboured away, burning the midnight oil in building a future for themselves. A massive thank you to our teachers too, who put in the extra work with limited resources (yes, we know you do), we applaud you.

Though, it’s not much different to when I matriculated many moons ago. Waiting with anticipation to see your name appear on that piece of paper stuck to the wall. And then, all anxiety escapes, when finally, you see your name in all its glory. It’s a great moment of relief, jubilation and triumph in completing your school career, not yet truly grasping the fact that we were then immediately unemployed. A grim reality quickly caught up with us, even worse if you didn’t have the means to further your education.

In South Africa, our unemployment rate sits at 27%, with a staggering 65.5% youth, mostly of school leaving age. This has a tremendous effect on the economy and GDP of South Africa, and even less opportunity for those without the illusive “Bachelors Pass”. Not such a celebration if we don’t make changes to where it’s hurting us the most – our education system.

Creative change is needed to excel

Excelling at school is a great advantage in furthering careers and developing thinking for those who have passed and have the opportunity (funding) to study further. But the question taunting everyone who gives a blue bean about the future of our country: what calibre of job-seeking school-leavers are we developing? What about those who aren’t able to excel and those who scrape by with the bottom-of-the-barrel results? Worse still, what about those who are still in school? Is our curriculum setting them up for failure?

Yes, we’ve seen an increase of 2% in the matric results this year, from 70.7% (in 2015) to 72.5% in 2016 which is great, but our maths and literacy levels are nothing to hoot about. In fact, it’s been revealed that the raw figures from Umalusi (DBE quality control body) shows that the average mark received by learners who wrote the mathematical literacy exam, to be in the region of only 37%. Our education system is broken and a quick fix is not going to cut it. We need to establish and develop a concrete plan in taking our country to further heights.

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