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South African students attend a lecture in a classroom.

Star Schools Gives Students a Second Chance to Enter University

Project Overview

In South Africa, more than half of young adults are unemployed – and that figure continues to rise. A pathway to university provides young people with an opportunity to pull themselves, their families, and future generations out of the cycle of poverty. One obstacle to university, however, is meeting the minimum entrance requirements in the national matriculation exams.  

Nearly a quarter of Grade 12 students do not pass their matriculation exams and more than a third do not meet the university entrance requirements. Star Schools gives students from disadvantaged backgrounds and underperforming schools a second chance to enter university. Through its Grade 12 Rewrite Program, they equip students with the targeted instruction, tools, and support they need to improve their final year results, meet university entrance requirements, and improve future employment opportunities. 

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to worsen national matriculation exam outcomes. With substantial job losses concentrated within already disadvantaged populations, it’s become even more challenging for young people to financially afford and access the education they need to improve their economic position. 

Star Schools is an advocate of equity over equality. Our goal is to empower the previously disadvantaged youth with an education level strong enough to succeed.

Priscilla Ramlakan, Star Schools CEO

How It Helps

Leveraging the curriculum developed by South Africa’s Department of Basic Education (DBE), Star Schools’ educators offer high-quality exam preparation and instruction on subjects in which learners commonly need more support – ranging from English to math to time management. These offerings are designed to be affordable and easily accessible, where students can complete coursework when it’s most convenient for them. After successfully completing the Grade 12 Rewrite Program, students can apply to the DBE for a revised Grade 12 certificate and apply to universities. 

The pandemic shocked the country’s already unstable economy, spiking unemployment rates and leaving many students (and their families) unable to cover tuition costs for additional educational support. To address these hardships, partial financial support was provided for students from low-income communities who found themselves unable to pay their outstanding tuition. The students involved in this project in 2020 successfully completed the rewrite program and matric examinations with an overall pass rate of 95%, an increase of 9% compared to 2019 and well above the national pass rate of 76%. 

Star Schools also offers an incubator program in which organizations use their corporate social investment funds to sponsor selected learners at under-resourced schools in the communities where they operate. 

Star Schools is ranked among the top feeder schools to many post-secondary institutions throughout South Africa, and its students are highly likely to complete a university degree. By giving students from low-income backgrounds a second chance to enter university, Star Schools is helping close opportunity gaps, ensuring students can achieve their full potential through the pursuit of a high-quality education, and offering a pathway to prosperity.  

Foundation Project Lead