At the SANIRE AGM held in August we shared some of the history of the pass rates achieved for the various papers of the Rock Mechanics Certificates. The pass rate being relatively low is, however, dependent on the candidates being experienced enough to understand the study material and knowing how to apply it in actual case studies or work situations. For most candidates, obtaining a Rock Mechanics Certificate is a true journey, comprised of highs and lows. There is no greater feeling of disappointment when you know that you have put in a lot of effort, yet you still fail a subject. I can recall the accomplishment I experienced when I “eventually” passed my ticket. We always hear our mentors and managers saying that we need to keep on trying; perhaps the next paper is your paper. Looking back, I can now also echo these words. Through your personal journey to obtain the qualification, you will also reach a point in your career when you will look back and realise that you only passed the ticket when you were prepared technically and had obtained sufficient experience to understand and apply the knowledge you had gained over the years. In South Africa we have achieved more than 100 qualified Rock Engineers in the past 5 years. Success is dependent on each person’s ability and effort. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” (Winston Churchill).

With the “fees must fall” campaigns bringing our tertiary institutions to a standstill, we again realise how desperate people are for education. Education is, however, a privilege and cannot be taken for granted. People are not created equally, however, and some people have abilities far superior to those of others. As a society, we are dependent on the ability of each person to contribute to the various areas within our societies. For example, everybody cannot and will not become doctors. “Medicine is only for those who cannot imagine doing anything else”. As Rock Engineers, we are appointed to ensure safe mine workings. If we fail to produce a high standard of Rock Engineers, we fail to ensure the safety of our co-miners.

Michael du Plessis