Grade 9, the new matric?

2016-02-18 06:00

IN the year your child turns seven, he or she starts the routine of attending school, but at what age can a child legally shrug off classes and books?

According to the SA Schools Act, the first exit point in the South African schooling system is the end of the Grade 9 year, which is the general education and training certificate (GETC) phase where they are awarded the certificate.

If a pupil has not enrolled at, or fails to attend school, the HOD may:

• investigate the circumstances of the pupil’s absence from school;

• take appropriate measures to remedy the situation; and

failing such a remedy, issue a written notice to the pupil’s parent.

A parent who keeps their child out of school faces the possibility of a fine or jail of up to six months.

What qualifies as a school?

A school has to be registered with the Department of Education and has to meet the criteria outlined by the department.

‘The South African Schools Act defines a school as “a public school or an independent school which enrols pupils in one or more grades between Grade 0 and Grade 12” - this is according to the Western Cape Education Department­ director of communication, Paddy Attwell.

The pupil will have completed general­ education and training (Get), which covers Grades R to 9, but has no true qualification.

‘The national Department of Education is considering a GETC, but the matter is still under discussion,” says Attwell.

The next step after Get is further education­ and training (FET) in either a school, covering Grades 10 to 12, or equivalent levels in FET colleges. Pupils­ can transfer to FET colleges after­ Grade 9.

Greg Crighton, an educational psychologist and expert for Parent24, says that he believes that children should only leave school after Grade 12 as the current status of the job market­ is going to make it difficult for unskilled people to be employed.

There are, however many people leaving before then for a number of socioeconomic­ ­and educational reasons­, but not being able to pay school fees should not be an obstacle, he explains.

‘There are government schools that have reduced fees in poor areas and there are considerable rebates on fees if a person can prove they are unable to pay school fees.

According to the Constitution, a person cannot be denied the right to an education,’ says Crighton.

- Supplied.

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