The Department of Basic Education said the new Grade 9 General Education Certificate (GEC) will ensure that young people have the needed skills and competencies for a changing world.
The plan was unveiled by Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga during her speech at the SADTU National Congress at Nasrec, Johannesburg.
Motshekga said the plan forms part of the initiative to deal “decisively with the quality and efficiency through the implementation of standardised assessments”.
These standardised assessments are aimed at reducing failure, repetition, and drop-out rates in South African schools.
The minister said that the draft framework for the General Education Certificate in Grade 9 has been developed.
“The field trial for the General Education Certificate at the end of Grade 9 is scheduled for completion at the end of July 2020,” she said.
This certification is set to include technical occupational subjects which have been packaged and submitted to Umalusi for approval.
Not an exit point for school
The Department of Basic Education said it was misleading to see the new Grade 9 certification as a way for learners to leave school.
Instead, the department said, it should be seen as a pathway to one of three streams – academic, technical vocational and technical/occupational.
“Under the technical vocational stream, there was a target of 10,000 artisans per year,” the department said.
The department has also introduced new subjects – technical mathematics and technical science – which could be referred to as applied mathematics and applied science.
The Grade 9 GEC would therefore facilitate the pathways between schools and colleges at a level below Grade 12.
Learners can leave school at Grade 9
While the new GEC should not be seen as a way for learners to leave school early, it will give pupils the option to end their secondary schooling at the end of Grade 9.
This is according to the Department of Basic Education’s spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga who discussed the new certification with The Mercury.
Mhlanga, however, said “the notion of a School Leaving Certificate doesn’t exist in our policies anymore”.
“It’s an apartheid terminology that has no place in our democratic dispensation,” Mhlanga said.