The proposed Grade 9 general education certificate is not a school-leaving certificate, the department of basic education has warned.
In a statement released on Friday, the department raised concerns with the way the media had reported on Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s speech on Thursday, when she spoke about the progress regarding the introduction and implementation of the general education certificate. The department said that the reports were a “misrepresentation” of what the minister said at the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) congress at the Nasrec Expo Centre.
Motshekga, who delivered the keynote address at the event, raised concerns when she said that a draft framework for the Grade 9 certificate had been developed and that a field trial was scheduled for completion at the end of July 2020.
“We are also working on the introduction of multiple qualifications such as the general education certificate before the Grade 12 exit qualification. The national development plan aims for a world class assessment system involving reliable measures of learning for every primary school,” she said during the address.
Thursday’s event was not the first time the introduction of the Grade 9 general education certificate was mentioned, the department said, referring to three previous times when President Cyril Ramaphosa had spoken about it, including at the state of the nation address in February this year.
“In all three speeches, what was communicated was that the general education certificate would facilitate the pathways between schools and colleges at a level below Grade 12. At the time, the president said the following: “I am glad that this approach, an idea put forward as far back as 1995 in one our earliest education white papers, appears to be on the policy agenda again,” the department said.
The department says that offering a general education certificate to Grade 9 pupils “is not an indication of the exit of learners from a learning pathway in schools but provides better decision-making for and access to further learning after Grade 9.”
The aim of the general education certificate according to the department, is that it would be an NQF registered qualification awarded to learners at the end of their Grade 9 school year, which would enable those “who may want to access further learning can be assisted in the selection and guidance of subjects from Grade 9 level already”.
“The general education certificate can be diagnostic and used to inform learners of the possible pathways they may want to access. Learning pathways from the GEC General and GEC Occupational can be mapped out programmatically by institutions offering further education and training programmes, so that learner access is facilitated. More importantly, as learners’ circumstances change and influence their participation in FET programmes, so the access to various learning pathways can match those circumstances and prioritise how they access learning versus exiting programmes. This means that learners continue learning even if the programme or institution where they learn further changes,” the department said.