Matric ‘only a trampoline, not a winning streak’ for Helpies


Sparkling wine corks are rightfully shooting nationwide today as a crescendo on the school careers of thousands of matric learners who took the Independent Examination Board’s (IEB) final exam in 2023.

The bonfires are burning high from early on at Helpmekaar College in the heart of Johannesburg, which traditionally boasts a 100% pass rate. All 221 of this school’s matriculants passed the IEB exam, with 217 (98%) who can start with degree studies this year and five who qualified for diploma studies.

Helpmekaar’s matric group achieved 805 distinctions, or an average of 3.64 distinctions per learner. A total of 187 learners achieved at least one distinction (84.6% of the group), while 103 matrics boast more than four A’s. A total of 22% of the group, i.e. 48 matriculants, achieved seven or more distinctions, and 28 learners achieved distinctions in all their subjects.

No less than six Helpies boast ten distinctions – Ewan Basson, Andries de Kock, Ezaan Husselmann, Christiaan Portwig, Carine Pretorius and Helen Wilson, while nine candidates – Mieke Burger, Ann Jacobs, Anke Kelbrick, Jos Kotzé, Michelle le Roux, Michael Neuper, Marco Prinsloo, Zack Smit and Divan van Graan – achieved nine A’s.

Jos Kotzé also achieved 100% in mathematics, while Carine Pretorius boasts 100% in further studies mathematics (also known as advanced mathematics) on her report. A total of ten learners got 8 A’s, 23 got 7 A’s, and 14 got 6 A’s.

“We are extremely proud of our matric class of 2023,” says Klaus König, headmaster. “At the end of their 8th grade year in 2019, this group had a grade average of 71% and finished their school career with an average of 79.8%. This represents an increase of 8.8%, which is truly exceptional.”

When it comes to numerical subjects such as mathematics, accounting, physical sciences, information technology and further studies mathematics, all the hard work certainly paid off. Helpmekaar’s matric group recorded an average of 75%, 76%, 79%, 74% and 80% respectively in these five numeracy subjects.

Of the 81 matrics who took German, French, Spanish (third languages) and English as their home language, 54 achieved a distinction. These learners can take the international language proficiency exam of the specific country at a B2 level, which gives them direct access to university studies in that country’s language. This year, several Helpies also took the scholastic aptitude test (also known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT) with great success and were selected for study abroad.

However, the Helpmekaar matric group’s brilliant figures are only a part of this school’s success story, says König. “Helpmekaar Kollege’s focus is and will always be on much more than just academic excellence and sports and cultural trophies. This is simply the icing on the cake.

“The South African school system as a whole has a greater responsibility than ever before to empower a generation of young people who are holistically developed and can stand firm in the midst of gale-force winds and not be suffocated by a rapidly changing world. Who, instead of presenting mere book knowledge, can express their own thinking, can assess and question the world around them, and can purposefully find and follow their vocation path.”

According to König, the harsh reality is that school leavers today have to be steadfastly detached from beautiful grades and achievements. “The national throughput figure shows not only how thousands of learners ‘disappear’ from the school system before matric, but also how an extremely large percentage do not manage to get up to the tertiary study level, despite good matric results. The vortex of young unemployed and uneducated jobseekers is consequently getting bigger and bigger and therefore matric (numbers) can never be considered as a winning pole, but only as a seesaw into the future.

“Bragging results without the establishment of future-oriented and future-proof young people have a short shelf life. Therefore, it is every educator’s responsibility to train positive disruptors to thrive in times of unapproachable waves and unpredictable tides. Not only thinking outside the box, but simply getting rid of this so-called box.

“Each child’s wiring and destiny is unique. Slavish uniformity and statistics-driven must give way to rare originality and boundless growth through discovery. Even this child who moves his own goalposts without distinction and broadens his thinking deserves a pat on the back. Because they are the ones who (will) write the future.”