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I failed Matric – now what?

how do i get my matric certificate

Esther Etkin

I failed Matric – now what? Last year, over 620 000 candidates sat down to write their final exams. While some passed with flying colours, others will be left feeling frustrated with their grades – faced with even tougher prospects of finding work when one in two young South Africans is already jobless.

“Matric is often mistakenly seen as a do-or-die situation,” says Resilience Therapist and Lecturer Janine Shamos. “The trick is for Matriculants to learn from their mistakes – failing matric or not doing as well as you’d hoped does not have to be the end of the road! From supplementary exams to university programmes, like the Midrand Graduate Institute’s Pre-degree Programme – the trick is to explore ALL your options!”

So, what are my options? “Candidates may apply for re-marking or re-checking of examination scripts immediately after receiving their results,” says Panyaza Lesufi – Chief Director: Communications, Spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education.

“The closing date for application for a re-mark or re-check is 23 January 2012. Application forms for re-marking or re-checking of examination answer scripts are available from schools or centres where the candidates sat for the examination.” The cost for a re-check is R12; for a re-mark, R70; and R150 to view your exam script.

Learners from no-fee schools are exempt from these fees. Supplementary exams: Matrics who failed less than three exams can apply to write supplementary exams at the start of 2012. They will need to register at their education district office, with their ID, exam results and exam number.

Qualifying learners for supplementary exams should not waste any time registering as there is a cut-off point (usually at the end of January). The supplementary exams are then written between February and March. For more info, visit

No fees will be charged for supplementary exams. Re-do your Matric Learners who do not qualify for supplementary exams and are under 21 are encouraged to re-enrol in school as soon as possible to re-do their Matric. For those unable or unwilling to return to the same school, private colleges such as Abbotts present another option.

“If you fail Grade 12, it is possible to move across to an Abbotts college,” says Greg Fillmore, GM of the specialist network of Grade 10, 11 and 12 colleges in South Africa. “We have a 100% pass rate as we’re a purely academic institution, and include supervised homework periods; all learners also get their teacher’s cell phone number and email address so there is a strong support system to ensure they can perform well.”

FET Colleges

“Candidates can also opt for vocational training,” says Mr Lesufi. “The National Certificate (Vocational) and the N Courses (N3 – N6) accommodate learners who have not achieved a Matric certificate and these learners are able to exit the FET College with a vocational qualification.

Learners with credits from the National Senior Certificate (Matric) will receive recognition for equivalent subjects when enrolling for the NC(V), which can serve

as incentive for entry to the Vocational stream.” Bridge the gap For those who do pass Matric, but would like to improve their grades for entry into certain courses or Universities, a bridging year is a good option.

Whilst currently in short supply in South Africa, public benefit organisations such as Equal Education and the South African Education and Environment Project (SAEP) in the Western Cape offer limited places to youth to ensure they are not just academically prepared, but also have the necessary life skills to navigate life at tertiary institutions.

Shep Willis, Manager of the SAEP Bridging Year Programme explains: “SAEP's programme is not just about getting into university; it's also about staying there. The odds can really be stacked against university students from underprivileged backgrounds.

Academics are certainly important, but often it's not academic troubles that derail a student. That’s why we provide the life skills - such as computer training and financial management, as well as the psycho-social support that students need – so they not only get into University, but stay the course!”

For those learners who do not get into University or a Bridging programme, Willis says: “Don’t despair. A year away from school is not always a bad thing, but make sure you use the time productively. A part-time job, for example, will help you stave off boredom and depression, and teach you some of the responsibility and skills that successful university students must have. Also, use this time to fully research the different tertiary options.”

Studying without Matric or Matric Exemption

“Even if your matric certificate does not give you university entrance, it’s possible you qualify for an alternative course of study that, though slightly different, may still be in line with your career aspirations,” says Kerry Damons of Boston City Campus and Business College.

“An option that’s often disregarded or underestimated is to enrol for shorter courses. “As the education system is based on unit standards, you can gain credits for every unit standard that you complete,” Damons explains. “Shorter courses can ultimately lead to a qualification, be it a certificate, diploma or degree.”

Says Sanet Nel of College SA: “We offer various courses for youth without a Matric. Most only require a Grade 10 certificate, whilst other courses accept you if you are older than 23. We also offer short courses that are ‘open entry’, which means anybody can enrol for them.”

She adds: “If a learner has passed Grade 10, they can start any programme at NQF 3 level to advance to NQF 4 and sometimes NQF 5 level programmes. A programme at NQF level 4 is at the same academic level as Grade 12. So while a qualification at NQF4 does not mean that you have Matric, it is an equivalent to Matric and will ultimately allow you to apply for those jobs where the minimum qualification is Matric.” Content provided courtesy of Career Planet –


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