COSATU statement on 2021 Matric results

The Congress of South African Trade Unions congratulates (COSATU) all the students who have passed their 2021 Matric exams and urges those who failed not to lose heart but to try again to achieve their full potential, including through applying to write supplementary exams.  

The Federation is relieved by the 76.4% pass rate achieved nationally. This pass rate is a laudable achievement against all the odds, including the extended shut-down because of COVID-19 and the problem of persistent load shedding.  

While this represent stability from last year’s 76,2%, it is still a 5% decline from 81.3% of 2019.  This reminds us that impact of COVID-19 on our education system cannot be understated.  

The credit for this success must go to the teachers, who despite difficult conditions ensured that students received all the necessary support and to the parents who taught some of these kids from home.  

We salute our affiliated union, the South African Democratic Teachers Unions (SADTU), for navigating the COVID-19 crisis and managing to keep the doors of learning open under difficult conditions.  

These steady results under these difficult circumstances should spur all social partners to improve their cooperation to take the nation’s education forward. The Federation’s Growth Path Towards Full Employment says that: “The education system is a key element of the New Growth Path. It plays a critical role in the transfer and development of skills and technology, and plays an important role in broader social development through promoting a critical, informed and active citizenship.”  

These results need to be analysed deeper to find out what percentage of schools contributed to the good matric results. We also need to find out how many achieved exemptions and will therefore go to university, and how many passed in maths and science.   

It is also critical that we examine why half of learners entering Grade R do not make it to Grade 12, and why so many matriculants still do not pass their exams.  Equally we need to tackle the large numbers of matriculants who make it to university and drop out as they are not able to cope with the university curricula. 

Our key challenge is to bring an end to this two-tier system, where the majority suffer from an education system in which their schools have no libraries or libraries with no books, and their laboratories or labs are not stocked and have no computers.  

The government needs to invest in the much-needed infrastructure to ensure that schools can cope with the challenges posed by COVID-19 and beyond.  This needs to include eradicating the backlog of thousands of schools which still do not have decent sanitation. 

The defunding of education accelerates the creation of for-profit private schools and perpetuates apartheid separate development and inequality.  

The austerity-driven economic framework that has led to the NSFAS not getting adequate funding is outrageous and we call on the government to fix this mistake in the next month’s budget speech.  

We reiterate our call for the government to pay teachers and other public service employees their outstanding salary increases from the third leg of resolution 1 of 2018.  

Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)  

Tel: 011 339 4911
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