Answer to a question from a reader

How can my husband write matric if he does not have a grade 9 certificate and cannot afford a private college?

The short answer

He can get his grade 9 and matric certificates for free through the Department of Basic Education.

The whole question

Dear Athalie and Grethen

My husband is unemployed and cannot afford a private college. How can he write his matric? He does not have a grade 9 certificate.

The long answer

According to the Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET) website, "if you do not already possess a grade 9 certificate, many organisations that offer adult matric will require you to take ABET classes to write the grade 9 exams before studying further for your matric. The matric exams typically include material from grades 10 to 12. That is why it is important to leave yourself enough time to study 3 years of work before writing the matric exam."

There are many organisations that offer ABET Level 4 (Grade 9 or NQF level 1) training. Some are listed here and here.

Once he has a Grade 9 report saying he passed, or a General Education and Training Certificate (which is a standardised exam that students who want to leave school after Grade 9 take), he qualifies to write adult matric, which is known as the Senior Certificate (Amended) while the traditional matric is known as the National Senior Certificate. He can do this for free, through the Department of Basic Education.

The adult matric year runs from August to June, not January to December. The exams are written in May/June. Registration opens by mid-October and closes on the 31st of January. He can do it in a year or over a longer period. He can enrol in an Adult Matric course at an adult learning centre (ABET) in the area. He can visit any Department of Basic Education (DBE) district office and find out where the most suitable ABET centre is for him. There will be a small registration fee (they do not say how much).

To pass the exam, he needs to pass six subjects, two of which must be official languages. Here is the minimum required:

  • Three subjects at least 40%, one of them must be one of the official languages and must be taken at home language level;
  • Two subjects at least 30%, one of them must still be an official language, which must be taken at second language level;
  • Subminimum of 20% in the sixth subject

The exams are written at certain examination centres of the Provincial Education Departments. These are mostly schools, but there are also some independent assessment bodies accredited by Umalusi. Instructions on examination centres will be provided by the DBE, as well as an Examination Guideline, which gives the structure and format of the exam.

Textbooks are CAPS (Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement) which is a “streamlined, essential document necessary for teaching and learning in all subjects from Grade R to 12.” The CAPS textbooks can also be obtained from schools, which make them cheaper. Example question papers based on CAPS are also available on the DBE website. He should contact the DBE to find out where the nearest ABET college is.

These are the contact details for the DBE:

  1. Call Centre: 0800 202 933 |

  2. Switchboard: 012 357 3000.

  3. Email:

  4. Certification: 012 357 4511/3 |

Wishing you the best,
Athalie and Grethen

Answered on Feb. 28, 2023, 1:27 p.m.

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