There is LIFE after Grade 12

Matric Sadness

Grade 12’s are entering the final exam phase of their school careers.  This time of year is marked with high levels of stress, suicide and general feelings of hopelessness in case a learner fails his/her Matric exams.

Several case studies at the Growth Institute show that failing a Matric exam is not the end of the road.  We believe that far too much emphasis is placed on Matric.  In fact, Matric learners are so stressed about the exams that their marks could drop by as much as 30% compared to what they have achieved in Grade 11.

It is not unlikely that a person who, got an average of 60% in his/her Grade 11 subjects, suddenly ends up with an average of as low as 30%.

The State’s default answer to those who failed Matric is that they have to enrol at a TVET college.  What is not said, is that those who failed Matric and who decide to go to a TVET college, have to start a program that is two levels lower than the Grade 12 level.  Thus, a person has to redo Grade 10 before he/she could progress to the next TVET level.

In a previous article, we indicated that the success rate at TVET colleges is not even 10%.  Thus, TVET colleges may not be a suitable answer.

Even when a person passed Grade 12 with very good marks, there are cases where the subject combinations that they took in school are not relevant to the minimum admission requirements at the majority of tertiary institutions outside the TVET framework.

The fact is that not all tertiary programs require that a candidate must have a Grade 12.  Coupled to this fact, is the misinformed myth that all programs who admit persons with Grade 11, are inferior.

Critics forget that many programs offered at private colleges are assessed by independent external examining bodies.  This means that the person who starts a first-year program at some private colleges, is exposed a series of professional exams that are focused on very specific skill sets that are relevant to the workplace.

It is a great social injustice to deny somebody access to a tertiary qualification simply because he/she did not pass Grade 12 but got very good marks in Grade 11.  There is indeed a solution for candidates in this group.  They could get access to a program that is on the same level as Grade 12 (NQF 3) and that allows them to progress towards a National Diploma (NQF 6) recognised by a host of professional bodies.

The fact that such programs are focused on workplace-based skills means that a person who completed such a program could be in a position where:

  • The skills learnt is relevant to the workplace and needed by the workplace
  • The skills learnt provide access to professional bodies that allow a person to practice as:
    • Bookkeepers
    • Financial accountants
    • Office managers
    • And other related professions of functions

Our advice to anyone who did not pass Grade 12, is to consider that there are options other than being forced into a TVET stream or being forced to face a life of unemployability because there is no perceived access to a tertiary academic program.


What can I do with my incomplete qualification?


Every year, thousands of South African youth drop out of university or college with an incomplete qualification.

Research done by the Growth Institute has shown that more than 40% of youth who drop out, actually completed a college or university program but that their results are withheld for a variety of reasons.  In many cases, the students have an outstanding study account, which causes the withholding of results.

Another 40% of youth think that they did not achieve a qualification after they dropped out and they simply do not know how to find out whether the are entitled to a qualification or not.

Growth Institute found that, in the latter class, students have studied towards a professional exam and that some colleges withhold the fact that the student have passed the professional exam and are, therefore, entitled to a qualification.

In addition, some colleges mix and match professional qualifications with internal programs and refuse to award a qualification even though the student has met all the requirements of the professional examination body.  In this case, qualifications are withheld because a student may not have completed a small fraction of the internal program.

Students who studied a NATED (N3, N4, N5 and N6) are often not awarded because the students have not completed specific practical course requirements.

No matter what the case, the fact remains that students who wrote certain professional exams are not aware that they actually met all the requirements of the professional examining body.  Such persons, need help to right a glaring social injustice.

The South African youth are not aware that they could make use of a Recognition or Prior Learning (RPL) intervention so that they could be considered for an alternative qualification.

An RPL intervention is not a magic bullet that will transform an incomplete qualification in an alternative full qualification.

Growth Institute’s research has shown that 55% of youth who did wrote some professional exam, needs only three more credits to be awarded a qualification at a specific level.

We are committed to help the South African youth to get what they deserve.

A Great Opportunity Awaits You!


Growth Institute is offering an opportunity to young, dynamic, individuals to prepare for a career in a number of international hotels.

All persons between the age of 18 and 25 who register for any of our Hotel Management Programs, could be earmarked to work overseas.

If you meet the following entry requirements, you could be in the run for an opportunity of a lifetime:

  • You must be between 18 and 25 years old
  • You must have Grade 12 with:
    • English 60%
    • Math Lit 60%
  • You must be a South African citizen
  • You must have a valid driver’s licence
  • You must have completed at least Level 3 and Level 4 Hotel Management at our college
  • You must pass all selection interviews

Act today and stand a chance to join the fastest growing industry in the world.  The new classes start on 1 September 2019.

Apply via our website


Good News for anyone without Grade 12


Yearly, thousands of learners are forced to leave school after they completed Grade 11.  In almost every case, personal circumstances necessitate leaving school before there was an opportunity to finish Grade 12.

Most early school leavers believe that they will never be able to get a tertiary qualification because they lack a Matric Certificate.

The good news is that a Matric Certificate is NOT a prerequisite to a tertiary qualification.  This means that Growth Institute is willing to accept students who completed Grade 11 and who have achieved the following marks:

  • English 60%
  • Mathematics Literacy 60% or Mathematics Core 55%

Accounting or Bookkeeping is not a prerequisite for any of our courses.

We feel that any institution who refuses to accept persons who achieved good marks in Grade 11 and who could not achieve Grade 12, is not taking the interest of the youth at heart.

Circumstance should not stand in the way of achievement.

That is why Growth Institute’s Dignity Program has been designed to give every person, who passed Grade 11 with good marks, an opportunity to obtain a tertiary qualification.

Setting new standards in tertiary education


The days of rote learning or learning in a strict, regimental, environment are over at Growth Institute.

We demand that our students stand on their own feet and that they are able to hold their own in a workplace that becomes more relentless by the day.

We have flipped the classroom.  Students are expected to do specific volumes of pre-reading and research before they come to a class.  Lecturers discuss topics in class, asking exploratory questions and spending time to assess which student needs more attention.

Growth Institute believes in the adage that one can lead a horse to water but that it remains the horse’s responsibility to drink.  Since all of our course require practical application, Growth Institute assist students to find placements in a workplace.  These placements are considered to be unpaid internships and the onus is on students to meet specific workplace-based outcomes that are part of the course.

Students who are reluctant to sing up for workplace experience quickly find that they lag behind because the majority of assessments and exams that they have to complete, requires students to quote examples out of their practical workplace experience.

Our experiential approach to learning means that those students who eventually pass their senior levels, are well prepared for the workplace.  They have been exposed to a number of demanding situations and they quickly learn how to build a strong coping support system around them.

We can rightly say that the majority of our students are gutsy, resilient and well-adapted to deal with the workplace.

Literacy: More than just the “Three R’s”


World Literacy Day will be celebrated on 8 September 2019, and it is appropriate to ask, “What is literacy really?”.  Reading, writing and arithmetic is, in our view, only the tip of the Literacy Iceberg.

Growth Institute believes that literacy can only become meaningful when comprehension, insight and wisdom is associated with literacy.  Most South Africans can read, write a sentence or do a basic calculation, but not all have the ability to engage with and extract sustainable meaningful insights from a text or narrative.

Decades of rote learning practices, and neglectful teacher development have come home to roost.

The effect of poor literacy stands out when learners are confronted with exams.  Let’s consider the following experiential examples:

  • The fact that learners attempt to memorise calculations and then complain that the “sums they have studied were not in the exam” is alarming. Learners simply do not know the principles of arithmetic and that is why they are stumped when the same type of calculation, made up of different numbers, is presented to them in an exam.
  • Some “education experts” believe that grammar and spelling is not essential to a language course. Thus, assessors are confronted with exam answers in which words are strung together without any meaning.
  • Poor literacy also means that learners are not able to follow written instructions in exams because some examiners have literacy issues themselves. For example, what does “Write about the effects of economic cycles” mean to a learner?  In addition, an exam question such as “List transactions without money” gives no indication of what the examiner wants to assess.

Some teachers do not know how to teach and some who set exam questions have never been exposed to the role that semantics, grammar and Bloom’s Taxonomy plays in the creation of meaningful assessments.  Poor setting of exam papers or exam questions contribute to high failure rates which, in turn, are interpreted by some as low literacy levels under learners.

To improve literacy rates will demand that the State improves the quality of those who stand in front of a class.  It is time to reconsider the minimum qualifications and requirements to be a teacher.

  • In the Canadian system[1], a three-year post-secondary degree and four semesters of teacher training is required.
  • In India, teachers must have a minimum of a Bachelors Degree and they must meet specific eligibility requirements[2] before they are allowed in a classroom
  • In Kenya, teachers have to complete a one-year post diploma teacher training course before they are allowed to practice[3]. Similar requirements are found in Nigeria[4].
  • Ghana requires that teachers practice under supervision before they are admitted to the profession[5]

Teachers need multiple levels of skills.  Not only do they need to master the content of a specific subject (such as Geography, Mathematics, Accounting, etc.), they must master the ability to transfer that knowledge is such a way that everybody can understand the concepts being taught.

  • Teacher competency – especially the ability to transfer knowledge in English, remains a problem[6]. Mother-tongue education at lower levels remains a complicated matter.
  • Continuous training of teachers[7] becomes a greater imperative than ever.
  • Some teachers in South Africa are eager to have their competencies assessed on a regular basis[8]. Unfortunately, labour unions seem to take a dim view, insisting that teachers’ competencies should not be challenged[9].  More specifically, the idea that teaching is not an essential service[10] must be re-examined.

In the future world of work, economic freedom will only be achieved by those who can extract meaning and insight from the world around them.  The ability to “Ask Why?” and not the ability of mechanistic reading, writing or arithmetic will be the divide between those who will thrive in the new world of work, and those who will fade into a state of competitive irrelevance.

Our education system has to make very hard choices.  Will learners who are exposed to new regimes such a robotics and software coding be able to develop solutions based on insight, or will learners simply go through motions without understanding the value of what they are taught?

The fact is that disciplines such as robotics, software coding, mathematics, physics, science all require high levels of reasoning and language skills from learners.  These subjects depend on the ability to master causalities (“If”, “Then”, “Else”).

There is no more place for rote learning and there is no more place for actions that places the whole education system at risk.













Unemployed grads mass

There are no jobs! But there is work!  What a strange statement to make.

South Africa’s youth is not unique in the sense that it is hard to find a job after graduating with a diploma or with a degree.  Economies on every continent struggle with the “Unemployed Graduate” dilemma.

Whilst it is true that economic cycles and national policies determine the willingness of employers to recruit, there are other perspectives to consider.

Scarce Skills

There is simply an oversupply of qualified persons in certain sectors whilst other sectors have vacancies that have not been filled for years.  The list of scarce skills[1] that the State publishes from time to time, clearly shows a mismatch in what the economy needs, and what people are willing to qualify for.  Unless the youth reconsider their career aspirations and start focusing on what are actually scarce national skills, unemployment will remain.

Yearly, Growth Institute sees Grade 12 learners from more than 500 schools in Gauteng, which means we engage with at least 15 000 Grade 12’s each year.  We are always fascinated by the career expectations that the youth has.  Accounting, Medical Science, Law and Engineering are the careers that are topmost in the minds of many.  Less than 5% of Grade 12’s is willing to consider alternatives until they apply to tertiary institutions and are offered alternatives that may still not address the scarce skills crisis.

Interviews with Life Orientation/Guidance teachers in schools show that less than 12% of teachers are aware of South Africa’s National Scarce Skills needs.  Teachers will have to stay abreast of scarce skills.  However, demands on teachers are such that career guidance fall in the lowest of the teaching day’s priorities.

Parental Influence

The majority of the youth are influenced by their parents and siblings in terms of career choices.  The popular mantra is “You must have a degree, any degree, to get a job!”.  Very few parents consider our scarce skills needs because technical and vocational careers are considered to be inferior.

The fact that a parent is a successful doctor does not mean that the child will be in the same mould.  Parents cannot live their own career aspirations through their children.

Filling Curriculum Gaps

In the last fifteen years the world has changed.  Academic curricula cannot keep up with the demands of the contemporary workplace.  This means that employers focus more on internal training than they ever did in the past.  Industry recognises that academia cannot meet the demand of all the skills variances needed.  Thus, those who are already employed are upskilled on internal programs, diminishing the need for new job entrants.

The Experience Game

Since industries form more or less homogenous clusters of common skills, it is more affordable to recruit experienced workers from other employers than it is to focus on new job entrants.  Most industries claim that it takes two years to equip a new job entrant with additional skills before that person can start to add value.  Give the perceived fast pace of change in the world of work, retooling newcomers is considered an unnecessary expense.

Labour Policy Dogmas

In some sectors there are vacancies that are reserved for specific demographics.  For example, an employer wants a female nanotechnologist of a specific racial classification but finds that there are many other female nanotechnologists from another racial classification available.  Since, the “right person” is not available, the vacancy remains open in perpetuity.  Alternatively, the employer could have someone in the organisation that is interested in the opening but lacks the qualification to apply.  In such a case, why not invest in that employee so that she can become qualified?  It simply does not make sense to keep a vacancy open simply because of some monolithic policy.

The Dawn of Workeracy

Where do all of these challenges leave the youth?  The answer could be found in the idea of workeracy[2].  Using a combination of interests, skills and academic qualifications to create one’s own work, will become more important that hoping to find a job.

The reality is that Millennials have different product and service needs than previous generations.  Who, then, are best suited to design and offer relevant products or services to Millennials?  Certainly not the Baby Boomers or even Generation X.  Millennials understand Millennials and they should therefor create their own work to produce unique services and products for Millennials.

The youth will have to ask themselves:

  • What skills do I have?
  • What needs do I see in my community?
  • How can I use my skills to fulfil specific needs in my community?
  • How can I use my own interests and passions to create products or services that could be useful to others?

Workeracy is not without challenges.  Effort, trial and error is part of the journey towards a culture of workeracy.  The main question to answer is whether the youth is willing to take the leap towards workeracy.