From next year pupils will receive a General Education Certificate on completion of Grade 9.
Announcing the radical move yesterday Education Minister Naledi Pandor said in Johannesburg: "Pupils will receive an exit certificate called the GEC on completion of Grade 9. There will also be a standardised national report card."
With the new National Curriculum Statement pupils have an option of leaving general schooling after Grade 9. The pupils can then continue their studies at a further education and training college.
At present high school pupils receive school leaving certificates on completing their matric.
Pandor said the pupils would also write national examinations in English and mathematics.
"The certificates will indicate that the pupils are ready for the real world.
"The marks will consist of a 60 percent internal mark and a 40 percent external mark," Pandor said.
She said the department was also looking into the worrying trend that "higher education institutions have turned the Advanced Certificate in Education (Ace) into big business".
"We are having a review of Ace and are asking higher education institutions not to offer any more Ace courses."
Pandor said the department this year recorded the highest number of pupils enrolled for mathematics and physical science.
"The Study Mate Revision material will also be distributed to schools before the exams." she said.