January turns into Jan-u-worry for a lot of people. Primarily, parents, teachers and of course Grade 12 students.
This is the time that the Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary Level (NSSCO) school results are published and the moment of truth is upon them, and a multitude of questions are raised; Did they pass? Did they qualify for their chosen tertiary institution? Are eligible for a bursary? Did they get University access?
Especially the last question is an ominous one, and the people descend into a spiral of doom and gloom. Young teens who have worked hard see their dreams and academic careers burst like a bubble right in front of their eyes. Parents are often disappointed, and this disappointment turns to anger, recriminations and causes even more damage to the fragile egos, self-confidence and feeling of self-worth of the student. This does not help anyone, as when the disappointment, anger and feeling of impotence subside, the situation remains that the Grade 12 student did not pass with university access and now alternative arrangements have to be made.
As Winston Churchill said; “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Of course, this is all well and good, but how do you continue, how do you brush yourself off? How do you go on when you see all your peers heading off to university and new lives? There are several options open, and some may not seem that obvious. Of course, re-enrolling to repeat the year and study even harder and more to be able to re-do the exams seems to be the most straightforward option. However, due to a large number of Grade 12 students not passing, or not getting the required level of passes to enrol in tertiary institutions means there’s an undue burden placed on the secondary schools. A burden few schools can afford to carry, as they are already stretched beyond capacity. There often simply isn’t room to accommodate the repeating students and indeed, the resources aren’t readily available.
It is however not an option to have a 12-Grader just sit at home and do nothing. When pupils leave Grade 12, the real-world education starts. If they are unable to pursue tertiary education, their prospects are large to be found in the most menial of jobs with no prospect of a flourishing career or future. This is not only detrimental to the student but damages Namibia as a whole. A potentially high-flying student with good prospects finds their prospects cut short before they’ve even undertaken them.
Therefore, it is essential that there is some method of giving the students access to education in one form or another, even if it isn’t in the same school as they were in. There are well-respected institutions such as Southern Business School of Namibia that offer the possibility to pursue Tertiary Education even if you did not pass with 25 points. If you have 20 points and more you can enrol for A higher Certificate at NQF level 5, instead of repeating grade 12. Something that is often overlooked is that every year the student spend not pursuing tertiary education is a year of lost income for the student.
What remains essential is that a Grade 12 learner is not at the end of their educational path just because their grades weren’t up to scratch. They don’t have to sit and stay at home and become a burden on the family and eventually society. They can pursue many forms of education, even service of a charitable nature while they wait for a place to open up to retake their exams or if they are now pursuing part-time education. Engaging in socially relevant work, like working with children, the elderly, those less fortunate or a myriad of other volunteer options can and will teach the learners a great deal and strengthen their CV’s at the same time. As well as making them feel like they are doing something worthwhile with their time and their lives, while they focus on getting the grades they need.
So, its ok to be disappointed, it is ok to be angry, and it is ok to feel disempowered. As long as neither the student nor their support system in the form of friends, family and educators wallow in these feelings. Always keep looking to the future and to what is still possible and remember what Sir Winston Churchill said about failure.
* Albin Jacobs is the Deputy Director of the Southern Business School Namibia