It turns out that the greatest difference in earnings across years of schooling is between those pupils with only a Grade 11 and those with a Grade 12 qualification. In fact, your salary nearly doubles if you have the matric certificate compared with what a Grade 11 will earn.

It is strange, but clearly matriculation signals something powerful in the market that brings considerable benefit to the person who successfully completes high school. This is a huge motivation to get more pupils to finish high school, given that slightly more than half of those who started in Grade 2 will eventually drop out of school, especially at or around Grade 10.

From a policy point of view this is a priority: ensure more children complete grade school. The straightforward economic benefits to individuals and, by extension, their families, are not inconsequential.

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