Matric in a pandemic: After a tough year, Class of 2020 eagerly await results

It’s been a deeply abnormal year for the class of 2020. They’ve had to adapt to online learning, being in lockdown and living with the threat of the pandemic.

FILE: Matriculants look up their results. Picture: Bertram Malgas/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - As the release of matric exam results looms, education experts are urging parents to speak openly with their children about their feelings and their psychological space.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga will on Monday release the matric examinations marks for the class of 2020 - a year that will go down in history for its unpredictability and uncertainty.
It’s been a disrupted and deeply abnormal year for the class of 2020.

They’ve had to adapt to online learning and little to no contact with their teachers, all while being locked down and living with the threat of the pandemic.

Educational psychologist Dayne Williams said every year there’s the possibility that matriculants might fail, lose hope, and think that their future is ruined. Some even consider taking their own lives.

"Suicide doesn't end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better. And even in our worst-case scenario, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes you just need someone to steer you toward that light."

And if the worst does happen, education experts want matrics to understand there are options to improve their marks.

Academic manager at Abbotts College Jacques Mostert also urged young people to avoid negative self-talk.

"It is so easy to fall in this cave of negative self-talk. I am not good enough or blaming COVID-19. Young people need to understand that they have time."

Williams said it was important that parents and siblings were mindful of the challenges their matriculant family member had gone through.

“Provide them with space to talk open and honestly. I don’t think this goes away after one conversation, this is ongoing.”

Williams urged parents to have patience and understanding with their loved ones and consider the trials they went through last year, emphasising that a worse-than-hoped-for result was not the end of the road, just a speedbump.


Nineteen-year-old Jasmine Arnolds never imagined being in matric during a pandemic.

“I had to do matric from home because I am a high risk for the virus and I am a comorbidity patient because of my medical conditions.”

Removed from her teachers and normal classroom activities, it was not the matric year she was hoping for.

“It was really tough to do matric from home.”

Alvrin Seconds finished at a secondary school in the small Western Cape town of Genadendal.

“There were some bad times like wearing the mask the entire time in the class. You were getting tired, the hotness outside, the principles that we must follow. Things that had to go with protocols which we were not used to.”

Like so many other South African kids, he’d been dreaming of his matric farewell pretty much from the first day of Grade 8.

COVID-19 meant that never happened for him.

But it wasn’t all bad.

“We like had this personal relationship with our teachers and students had great relationships with each other. Most of the times we got classes outside which were quite exciting for us. We could dress to impress as we were not wearing school clothes due to having to wash our clothes every day.”

Both Alvrin and Jasmine are anxious to get their results this week so they can start planning their future.

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