GETC covers Grades R to 9 but not a 'real qualification'

In the year your child turns 7, he 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 GETC phase where they are awarded the General Education and Training Certificate.

If a learner has not enrolled at; or fails to attend school, the Head of the Department may:
  • investigate the circumstances of the learner's absence from school;
  • take appropriate measures to remedy the situation; and
  • failing such a remedy, issue a written notice to the parent of the learner.
A parent who keeps their child out of school faces the possibility of a fine or jail for up to 6 months.

So what qualifies as a school?

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

‘The South African Schools Act defines a school as “a public school or an independent school which enrolls learners in one or more grades between Grade 0 and Grade 12”,’ according to Western Cape Education Department’s, Director of Communication, Paddy Attwell.

He goes onto say that the learner will have completed General Education and Training (GET), which covers Grades R to 9 but will have no real qualification.

‘The national Department of Education is considering a General Education and Training Certificate, 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. Learners can transfer to FET colleges after Grade 9.

Greg Crighton, an educational psychologist and expert for Parent24, says that he personally believes that children should only leave school after Grade 12 as the current status of the job market is going to make it very hard for unskilled people to be employed. There are, however many people leaving before then for a number of socio-economic reasons as well as 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 that they are unable to pay the fees. According to the constitution, a person cannot be denied the right to an education,’ says Crighton.

Would you allow your child to leave school at Grade 9?
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