When the clock struck 12 o’clock at midnight some matriculantswere woken up (if they were able to sleep at all) to an sms notification notifying them of their fate. Others were up at the crack of dawn to take that gruelling walk to their nearest stores and petrol stations where they joined their peers who werehuddled around a newspaper, fingers frantically seeking a name and examination number and when it was finally found joy and elation ensued.
Indeed the class of 2019 have got a lot to celebrate because their hard work throughout the year have closed the decade with record setting results. The pass rate has increased to a staggering 81.3% – the highest it has ever been since the dawn of democracy in 1994. The results also revealed that the future is very much female with an increased number of bachelor’s degree passes mostly belonging to female students. More good news is that the most distinctions came from the quantile 1 and quantile 2 areas which are largely comprised of township and rural schools signalling the closing inequality gap between these and so-called model c schools.
However once the euphoria subsides, some matriculants will be faced with the reality of trying to get into a university and their future after graduation. With such record high numbers of learners passing with marks entry level marks one wonders if universities nationwide will be able to accommodate them all? And if so will bursary schemes and big student financing institution NSFAS be able to assist students who cannot afford the hefty bill of a degree? The country is facing the highest level of unemployment the most of those without jobs are the youth and more worrying, youth with degrees and diplomas. Is it safe to say that they face a grim reality on the other side of the rapture and ecstasy of results day? Or maybe these Gen Z’s are not stressing themselves out because they have a few more tricks up their sleeves. In the past decade we have seen conventional education methods being neglected and tertiary level education no longer being prioritized as the pinnacle of academic success. The world is going digital and the 2000s are following suit. The days of toiling away for three + years in a lecture room and filling your head with information from textbook after textbook are coming to an end as many young people are proving that you could make a good amount of money with a national senior certificate alone – no degree required. There is a market in digital spaces because that is where the young ones get their content from – from the latest news to the buying and selling of goods – online is where it’s at. By simply creating your own Youtube page and after figuring out a subject matter you can gain thousands if not millions of followers which can amass to lots of zeros in your bank account. Notable South Africans who have taken advantage of this platform are Mihlali Ndamase, Lasizwe and Moshe Ndiki.
Some, forced by their tough financial circumstances, take the entrepreneurial route and decide to put those business studies they learned in high school to practical use. Their small corner sales could have the potential to grow into reputable business and they have other young people to look up to for inspiration such as Naledi Sibisi who turned her love for beauty into cash by creating and selling her own brands of lipsticks that are now widely available throughout Jo’burg or Nyakallo Mokoena who owns and runs Mcofana, a coffee roastery that stemmed from him giving out hot beverages in winter [Joburg.co.za]. Another popular choice is taking a gap year – a year dedicated to travel or work after high school usually to gain experience or to take a break while figuring out which academic direction to take before resuming your studies. No matter the direction they choose to take, they can hold their heads up high knowing that the blood, sweat and tears they put into their studies etched them into the history books.
The take away lesson from this matric batch and the ones coming after them is that whether your goal is to don a graduation cap and hood or making a name for yourself from building your brand and your business from the ground up, the possibilities are endless if you are willing to overcome your adversities and put in the work. The class of ’19 are writing their own rules and breaking barriers while doing so, with this I’d say the future is in great hands.