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Grade 9 certificates not the end of the schooling road, says department

The education department said on Tuesday that the grade 9 certificate will "allow for the enhanced quality of education and training" in key industries.
The education department said on Tuesday that the grade 9 certificate will "allow for the enhanced quality of education and training" in key industries.
Image: paylessimages / 123RF Stock Photo

The education department on Monday told parliament that the proposed grade 9 certificates would not signal the end of pupils' schooling journeys.

This was a misconception by the public, it said.

“Contrary to media reports that learners would finish school in grade 9, the GEC is not an exit certificate. The GEC and GOC will enable learners to elect various pathways and in fact continue with their education at different institutions, where they will be exposed to skills training in available trades,” said the department as it briefed parliament’s education portfolio committee on Monday.

The GEC is the General Education Certificate, while the GOC is the General Occupational Certificate.

Minister Angie Motshekga, who announced the plan at the ninth Sadtu national congress last month, said the introduction of these certificates was nothing new, with numerous other countries offering something similar.

“The proposal of the GEC and three-stream model is not new. The sector is now moving towards implementation, as this will not only fundamentally or radically change the education and training landscape, but will contribute immensely to the skills revolution desperately needed by the country,” she said.

The department said these certificates were aimed at creating more opportunities for learners, especially those who would not make it to matric.

“Currently, there is a high dropout rate before grade 12, peaking in grades 10 and 11 (15.2% in 2012). Approximately a third of young people aged 15-24 (3.4-million) are not in employment, education or training (NEET) and 2-million of whom have not finished grade 12,” said deputy minister Dr Reginah Mhaule.

"Collectively, this points to the need for a standardised assessment and a qualification to usher learners into different pathways at the end of compulsory schooling in the form of the GEC."

Mhaule stressed that the GEC was aimed at better positioning learners to take advantage of further education opportunities that exist as it also provided a benchmark against which schools can compare their internal assessments, while bringing these qualifications to parity with the South African National Qualifications.

“This will allow for the enhanced quality of education and training, while facilitating smoother access, mobility and progression within education, training and career paths,” said chief director for curriculum Dr Moses Simelane.

The department said that after obtaining these certificates, opportunities would open up in industries such as aviation and maritime.

“The department has worked closely with industries, from aviation to maritime, to develop the curriculum for these subjects that will assist learners to enter the job markets that lack skilled workers to service these industries and formalise the work that has been done. This is with the purpose of ensuring that the courses offered will be relevant and add value to industry,” it said.

“South Africa is refocusing the curriculum towards a competence‐based approach, integrating the 21st century skills and competencies across the subjects and introducing new subjects and programmes that are responsive to the demands of the changing world.

"These include coding and robotics, marine sciences, hydro/aquaponics, aviation sciences, design across the curriculum, mathematics and science, as well as aviation studies.

"It is envisaged that these will create interest among young people and encourage them to stay in school. The department is working closely with industry in this regard.”

The certificates will enable learners to pursue academic, technical vocational and technical occupational pathways in the further education and training (FET) band from grades 10 to 12, whether at schools or at TVET colleges.