The first bad thing about the 2012 matric results is that 35% of the pupils failed completely.
They have a mountain to climb and hopefully they will make use of all the opportunities the system provides to advance their lives.
The second bad thing is that many of those who passed did so with very low marks – 80% of the students did not qualify for bachelor degree studies.
The third bad thing is that the small improvements come against a background of an unacceptably high drop-out rate of 25%.
The welcome news is that the results are on an upward trend with the national pass rate increasing by 13.3% over the past five years. The country is steadily addressing the systemic problems such as poor infrastructure, socioeconomic challenges and relatively low levels of competence in teaching.
South Africans are notoriously harsh on themselves, as the media scrutiny shows. And the benefit of the self-critical attitude is that it spurs the nation on to produce world-class results in sports, education and other areas.
But the question is whether the criticism degenerates into negativity? Care must be taken not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The good results are an achievement that should be celebrated. – Vuso Shabalala, an adviser in the presidency. He writes in his personal capacity