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Does It Take 10 Years To Complete Matric In South Africa?

Yes, it does take 10 years to complete Matric in South Africa. According to researchers at the University of Stellenbosch, students can take up to 10 or more years to complete Matric. The study shows students’ progress throughout their school careers.

The results of the study highlights the shortcomings of the educational system. These shortcomings include the repetition of school grades as well as students dropping out before they reach Matric.

This could be because students are not getting the skills and knowledge required in the curriculum within the time they are supposed to. Let us look at the research more closely:

  • The matric qualification
  • Drop-outs
  • Grade repetition (enrolment bulges)
  • The effects of over-aged students
Online Matric

The Matric Qualification

In South Africa, the M
atric Qualification is extremely important as it opens up many doors for students. It is recognised as a school-level qualification in South Africa.

The University of Stellenbosch’s researchers have noticed that a large number of students drop out before they reach Matric. This means that students do not have anything to show (in terms of a “qualification”) for the time they have spent at school. 

In South Africa, the Matric Certificate is considered a qualification. Many students who have completed Matric can start looking for work and can further their studies. This is considered the entry-level qualification for most jobs.

Here is
what your salary could look like in South Africa if you have completed your matric. It also indicates what your salary could look like without Matric and if you choose to further your studies.

Online Matric


The data found in this research also indicates high drop-out rates. Students do not want to continue school because of their age. There are also many other social-economic factors. These factors include:

  • Students feel embarrassed because their peers are progressing and they are not
  • Family pressures (such as being the first person to complete Matric) or not having enough money to continue school
  • Students need to help take care of their siblings
  • Some students are also not interested in the subjects provided at school. This is why the government has decided to include the three model streams. It allows students to choose subjects that match their interests and abilities.
Online Matric

Watch This Video From The DBD Explaining What The Three Model Stream Entails

Grade Repetition (Enrolment Bulges)

Grade repetition increases “enrolment bulges”. This means that more students will enrol in a particular grade. 

For example, if 20 out of 40 students fail Grade 10, and 40 students move to Grade 10 then 60 students will enroll for the Grade 10 year.

Further research indicates that the average student repeats grades up to 3 years in their entire school year. 

The repetition of grades is seen in Grade 4 (the beginning of the intermediate phase) and Grade 10 (the beginning of the further education and training phase).

Online Matric

This was particularly seen in schools in Limpopo and the Western Cape. If a lot of students repeat grades, they end up being older than the age they are supposed to be.

Online Matric

Many people assume that students that repeat a grade will eventually manage to pass BUT this is not entirely true. Students end up dropping out of school.

Researchers believe that students repeat school because of the low standards in the educational system BUT there are no clear indicators. Students repeat grades for many reasons. Some of the main reasons are as follows:

  • The quality of education
  • Limited amount of resources available

The Quality Of Education

Higher grade repetition rates are usually found in poorer schools. Most students struggle to master the basic skills of literacy and numeracy. This goes hand in hand with the next reason for grade repetition.

Limited Amount Of Resources Available

Students do not receive all the necessary study material and even the basic textbooks to study from. This also includes the number of teachers per school and the number of students in a class.

Online Matric

Teachers also become stressed because of the limited space and because they cannot use other equipment such as computers because of the lack of space.

All of the above research was done by the professionals, in education, at the University of Stellenbosch.

National Repetition Policy

The rise in grade repetition has forced the government to create a “national repetition policy”. It was put in place to ensure that no child should be held back more than once in any education phase, whether it be in the following phases:

  • Foundation phase (Grade R-3)
  • Intermediate phase (Grade 4-6)
  • Senior phase (Grade 7-9) OR
  • Further Education and Training (Grade 10-12)


Outcomes Of The National Repetition Policy

The outcomes of this policy can go two ways:

  1. It can provide an opportunity for learning and improvement
  2. Students may not be ready to advance to the next grade if they have not mastered it.

The Effects Of Over-Aged Students

  • Money
  • Overcrowded classes
  • Dropouts


Online Matric


Due to the fact that many students repeat school, the Department of Basic Education has to spend a lot of money. The cost has reached between R20 and R29 billion. Research indicated that Grade 10 was the highest repeater’s grade.

Overcrowded Classes

In poorer schools, classes are overcrowded. Students do not get the opportunity for individual interactions with their teachers. An overcrowded class can cause tension as well as conflict and disruptive behaviour. 

Some students might feel that their personal space is being invaded and other students might get distracted by this, which can contribute to a lack of focus on both students and teachers.


With the repetition of grades comes a huge dropout rate. If students continuously repeat school, they become older and less motivated to continue school. Ultimately, students lose interest in continuing school because of the stigma attached to being older than their peers.

These students can end up completing the following courses as adults and still become successful:

  • Adult Matric: This is if you want to complete Matric as an adult. You must be 21 and older when you write the exams.
  • Matric Upgrade: Students that have failed Matric and want to improve their marks can complete this course. You can change your subjects or improve the same subjects you previously wrote.
  • Matric Equivalent courses: These courses are for students who feel that “traditional Matric” is not for them. They would rather do a course that gives them the necessary skills to start working BUT is still equivalent to Matric. A traditional Matric Certificate and a Matric Equivalent Certificate is on the same NQF Level. This is an NQF Level 4.

What Are My Options If I Want To Complete Matric As An Adult?

As mentioned above
Matric College offers three matric courses you can choose from:

  1. Adult Matric
  2. Matric Upgrade
  3. Matric Equivalent Courses

Adult Matric

How Do I Finish My Matric As An Adult?

You can
finish your matric by completing an Adult Matric course with Matric College. This course is for adult students who could not complete their matric. Here are some of the reasons why students choose to complete this course:

  • To get a better job
  • For personal growth
  • To apply to a university
  • To apply for a specific course at a university or college

Who Qualifies For The Adult Matric Course?

To apply for this course you must meet the following requirements:

Is An Adult Matric Certificate A Qualification?

Yes, an Adult Matric certificate is an NQF Level 4 qualification. NQF stands for the National Quality Framework.  NQF recognises educational qualifications in South Africa and that SAQA ensures quality standards are met. The different NQF Levels of achievement are arranged according to this framework in South Africa. Here are the different NQF Levels:

Online Matric

What Is Matric Called?

Matric is called the following things:

  • Grade 12
  • High school certificate
  • Matriculation
  • National Senior Certificate
  • Senior Certificate (Amended)

A Matric Certificate is a school-leaving certificate for students in High School. This certificate will be used to gain admission to a university, college or distance learning institution.

What Age Am I In Matric In South Africa?

You are either already 18 years old or turning 18 in your Matric year. However, the average age for a student in Matric is between 19 – 25 years old. 

Is Matric Registered With Umalusi?

Yes, Matric is registered with Umalusi. These are the certificates that are registered with Umalusi:

Online Matric
Online Matric

How Many Years Does It Take To Complete Matric As An Adult?


It can take between 1 – 3 years to complete an Adult Matric course at Matric College. This depends on the following two things:

  • Your personal goals
  • Family and work commitments you have

Your Personal Goals

Each person has personal goals that they want to achieve. This could be the driving force behind
why, when and how fast they want to complete their Matric.

For example, if you want to complete your Matric in a year because of a position at work that requires a Matric Certificate. This means that you will try to complete the course as quickly as possible.

Family And Work Commitments You Have

If you have a busy schedule such as family commitments or a busy work schedule then you can complete the course over a 3 year period. This allows you to complete the course at your own pace.

Matric Upgrade

Can I Upgrade My Matric After 10 Years?

you can upgrade your Matric after 10 years. The entry requirements for a Matric Upgrade course at Matric College are as follows:

  • You must have already completed your Matric. Your Matric results can be as follows:
    • A passed Matric Certificate that needs improvement
    • A failed Matric Certificate
    • An incomplete Matric Certificate
  • You must be 21 or older to write the exams. You can apply when you are 19 years old BUT you must be 21 when you write the exams.
  • Study through distance learning
  • Understand, read and write in English

What to once you have completed Matric? 

Once you have completed Matric you can have a look at  NATED courses. These are National Diploma that teaches students high demand and specialised skills that can be applied in the workplace, however, you will need a Matric Certificate or an Equivalent Qualification to qualify.

Educare Courses-N4 certificate- N5 certificate-N6 certificate- N6 diploma

Management assistant Course-N4 certificate- N5 certificate-N6 certificate- N6 diploma

Human Resource Management Course-N4 certificate– N5 certificate-N6 certificate- N6 diploma

Financial Management Course-N4 certificate- N5 certificate-N6 certificate- N6 diploma

Business Management Course-N4 certificate- N5 certificate-N6 certificate- N6 diploma

Marketing Management Courses-N4 certificate– N5 certificate-N6 certificate- N6 diploma

Matric Equivalent Courses

Matric Equivalent courses are courses that are on the same NQF level as a Matric Certificate. These types of courses are for students who do not want to complete Matric in High School. Students learn specialised skills that will give them the necessary skills to start working.

Matric College offers Matric Equivalent courses that will help students gain the skills required to start working. These courses prepare students to step into the workplace immediately.

The two Matric Equivalent courses offered at Matric College are:

  1. Further Education and Training: Bookkeeping (SAQA ID: 58376)
  2. Small Business Financial Management: National Certificate (SAQA ID: 58376

The above-mentioned ICB qualifications are focused on finance and business and are scarce skill qualifications. This means that these qualifications are high in demand in South Africa. 

Not only are they scarce skills BUT they are also recognised internationally. You can apply for jobs abroad with these qualifications. All of the ICB courses build on each other, therefore you have to complete one course to enter another. 

Bookkeeping: Further Education And Training (SAQA ID: 58376) – NQF Level 4

This course falls under the
Financial Accounting programme and only requires a Grade 10 certificate. It is also the second course. The first course is Bookkeeping: National Certificate (58375) – NQF Level 3.

In order to gain entry into the Bookkeeping: Further Education and Training course, you MUST complete the first course which is the Bookkeeping: National Certificate course.

NOTE: The Bookkeeping: National Certificate is an NQF Level 3 qualification.

Entry Requirements

These are the entry requirements for this course:

Small Business Financial Management: National Certificate: (SAQA ID: 48736) – NQF Level 4

This course falls under the
Business Management programme and only requires a Grade 11 certificate. It is the first course you can complete before you continue with the other courses.

Entry Requirements

Author: Jesmé Africa
Editor: Amy Venter
Date Published: Febuary 14, 2022

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