Advice for the Class of 2020

Teacher Ricardo Adamson with his Grade 12 pupils at their valedictory.

As we start the new year, and make new plans, the matric class of 2020 have a few more weeks to wait for their National Senior Certificate (NSC) results which are due to be released on Tuesday February 23.

With schools being forced to close during the early months of the lockdown, teachers had to find ways to continue teaching, and pupils had to adapt to learning remotely.

Some coped, while others didn’t find it that easy.

We spoke asked some education professionals what they would advise Grade 12s as they prepare to get their results late February next year – and how to deal with potential disappointment.

Author and former vice chancellor of the University of Free State, Professor Jonathan Jansen said it is natural to worry about your matric results.

However, he said: “Try to relax as much as you can. Do things that distract you such as games, walks and safe contact with friends. Say to yourself, whether you worry or not, the results will be the same. I would of course make plans. If x happens, I will do this; if y happens, I will plan for that, but don’t overthink anything,” he said.

And if you fail, it is not the end of the world, said Professor Jansen. He also failed, he said, and things did not turn out too badly for him.

Matriculants who fail should discuss their options with people who can give them advice on how to apply to rewrite the failed subject; take a break for a year, do an adult education course in the matric subject; take a year off to study with tutorships to ensure you are better prepared next time, but do not despair; plan rather, he said.

This matric year was unique because of the pandemic. “Hopefully by next year we’re all vaccinated against Covid-19.”

To the matrics of 2021, he said: “Plan for your academics in Grade 12 and your studies after that. A matric is not enough to give you the skills you need for the modern workplace, whether you go to a technical college or a university or an internship, plan.”

Mitchell’s Plain teacher Liesel Fortuin had this to say to the Class of 2020: “All pupils deserve to know that they have done their best and should constantly remind themselves of that fact.

“They should also take time to relax and recover from all the pressure of this year. Also, some pupils may need psychosocial support and should seek this if the need is there,” she said.

This was a year of great challenges and many things could have prohibited a pupil from passing, including being isolated, schools closing when positive cases were identified, financial loss at home and unemployment also had a devastating effect on the communities the children come from.

Grade 12s who are unsuccessful should make sure that they apply for supplementary exams or if necessary apply for a re-mark especially if it’s a “borderline” case, she said.

“Pupils should not beat themselves up about it. This year was difficult on everyone,” she said.

Ms Fortuin said this year was unprecedented, and because we don’t know what will be expected of teachers and pupils in Grade 12 to complete the curriculum, the class of 2021 should use part of this long holiday to prepare for their Grade 12 year.

Parow teacher Ricardo Adamson said while many had been talking about 20-plenty, world events had thrown everyone a curveball.

“There was excitement when you arrived in the first term receiving your matric jackets and badges. There were plans for matric balls, (some) even had their designs ready for dresses and suits. However, the year turned out completely different for all of us,” he said.

Teachers and pupils worked hard to learn the work and prepare for the final exams, he said. “When the country was uncertain of the future, matrics, you came out strong still. Teachers are essential workers, we’ve also lost many teachers in this pandemic who continued to serve others,” he said.

Those who may not pass, should not blame themselves for performing under these harsh circumstances, he added.

“You will go down as the first matriculants to experience a pandemic. The first to attend school under the new normal. The Class of 2020 are the real heroes,” he said,

And because Covid-19 will not disappear overnight, he said, everyone will have to live under the new normal and “we will need to work smart and hard with immediate effect, to ensure that we obtain good results in 2021”.