The idea of the issuing of Grade 9 certificates is to steer learners who choose it in the direction of vocational training, says the Department of Basic Education. picture: Supplied
The idea of the issuing of Grade 9 certificates is to steer learners who choose it in the direction of vocational training, says the Department of Basic Education. picture: Supplied

Grade 9 GEC aimed at steering pupils into vocational training - department

By Sukaina Ishmail Time of article published Oct 3, 2019

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Cape Town - There is confusion about the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga’s recent announcement that the issuing of a Grade 9 certificate is being explored, with some suggesting that it could increase school drop-outs or act as a replacement for a Grade 12 certificate.

But the department says the idea is to steer learners, who choose it, in the direction of vocational training.

Motshekga’s spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, said that those who complete their last three years of high school in vocational training will be more employable and attractive to recruitment specialists because they will have skills that a particular industry requires.

Therefore, those learners will be able to have some experience in a field of their interest, which can be an advantage over those who have only theory.

“The idea of introducing a General Educational Certificate (GEC) came about when industry informed the education department that learners needed to be more prepared for the future world of work.

“As a department we therefore needed to reconfigure our curriculum offering to address the needs of industry, so there is a match and not a mismatch between what industry needs and what we produce.”

Specialist in the field of peace, mediation and conflict resolution Professor Brian Williams said that offering a GEC in Grade 9 could be “dumbing down” the educational system.

Williams said that if learners are to focus on vocational training during their final years of school instead of getting a matric certificate then there should be more schools focusing on an area of specialisation, for example an electrical engineering high school.

“The idea of a Grade 9 GEC will almost simplify the requirements of the educational system instead of fixing the root cause of the educational problem.

“This will also result in more young people choosing the easier option.”

Stoffel Goosen, organisational development head at Curro independent schools said: “The reality is that a university degree is no longer a guarantee that you’ll get a job.

“South Africa needs to solve its skills crisis and the National Certificate Vocational (NCV) qualification can be a part of teaching learners real-world skills that they can put to work immediately in their chosen field.”

Goosen said that a misconception about NCV is that it’s easier than the NSC curriculum because it has been designed for “non-academic” learners, which is not true.

Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said: “We need to distinguish between the principle of such a certificate and the actual outcome.

“It is a valid concern that people may leave school without the required competencies and this should be addressed by ensuring that the quality of teaching is adequate.

“This does not however mean that we should reject the principle of such a certificate because of that.”

Executive director for National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa) Basil Manuel said: “The GEC is not a new phenomenon.

“It has been around since 1995 and was resuscitated in 2008 and has been registered with South African Qualifications Authority as a Level 1 qualification on the National Qualifications Framework.

“The current educational system is academically focused and does not cater for the interests, aptitudes and abilities of all learners, prompting many frustrated learners that are not academically inclined to leave school.

“The highest school dropout rate is experienced in the senior phase (Grades 7 to 9).

“It is with this in mind that the intended introduction of the GEC is welcomed by Naptosa albeit guardedly,” he added.

@Sukainaish

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Cape Argus

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