EVERY year, our education system seems to bring more tears of sorrow than smiles of pride – why is this and how can it be improved?

Dr Nicholas Spaull has found the truth about our matric pass rate. His research discovered that last year’s matric pass rate was not the celebrated 78% but rather a poor 40% when you consider all the children who did not even make it to grade 12.

“Of 100 children who started grade 1 in 2007, only 51 made it to matric. Of that, 40 passed and 17 got bachelor’s passes – that’s not a 78% pass rate if 400 000 dropped out the system before matric.”

Sarah McGuigan is the director of Ntataise, a non-profit organisation founded in 1980 to help women in rural communities run early childhood development programmes.

The organisation, which has decades of information and expertise in the sector, is proud of the network it helped develop , which led to some of Mzansi’s leading early childhood -training organisations.

“Quality early childhood development has immense potential to change the current education results for future pupils.

“We have to believe that no child is to be left behind – that the journey of a child through school should have no obstacles, from the first day to the last.”

Angie Motshekga, minister of basic education, when speaking about the matric results, said: “Research shows that the early years of learning to read, write, and compute translate into positive results and outcomes later in the schooling years.”

She said government is working on introducing an integrated early childhood development programme.

McGuigan said: “Over the years, government has given greater support to basic education in its budget, but if we are to significantly impact the outcome of later schooling, we need even more allocation.

“Early childhood development is the necessary foundation for all the children who have to enter the education system.”