Picture: Matthew Jordaan African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Matthew Jordaan African News Agency (ANA)

TVET college success stories back Grade 9 policy idea

By Thabiso Goba Time of article published Oct 5, 2019

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Durban - When Thenjiwe Shange left school in Grade 9 to go to Elangeni TVET college in Pinetown, she was uncertain how her life would turn out.

“My background made me go this route; I wanted to study and get a job quickly, but it was not easy. My Grade 9 teacher helped me take that decision because if you are a child there are some decisions you need to guidance for, especially if it involves your career,” she said.

Shange, now 28, enrolled for a National Vocational Certificate (NVC) programme in civil engineering and building construction.

The NVC is a qualification programme that has been offered at TVET colleges since 2007, and is the equivalent of Grade 10, 11 and 12.

To qualify for the programme, one needs to have passed Grade 9.

“The NVC is one of the high skills, high quality and high knowledge programmes that provides experience of the workplace environment and is intended to directly respond to the priority skills demands of the modern economy,” according to the Department of Higher Education website.

Shange now works as an artisan for eThekwini Municipality and has few regrets about dropping out of formal schooling.

“The journey was not easy because I was in class with people who finished their matric with some merit, so the only thing I told myself is that we are all here to study a new thing since civil engineering is not like school literature,” she said.

The recently announced Grade 9 General Education Certificate (GEC) policy by the department of basic education represents a continuation of the NVC programme.

Nomonde Mbelu did a course in Primary Agriculture, also at Elangeni college, and is now an entrepreneur supplying some of the country’s big retail stores with fruit and vegetables.

Linda Gumbi, 31, now a foundation phase teacher, also went through the NVC programme route at the Coastal KwaZulu-Natal FET college, where she studied for a certificate in Early Childhood Development.

The certificate allowed Gumbi to enrol for a Bachelor of Education degree at Unisa.

“I would recommend TVET colleges to anyone: they are more hands-on and good for a person who’s not doing well in school,” Gumbi said.

Professor Labby Ramrathan, director of education at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said the primary purpose of the “exit certificate” was to certify pathways for pupils into vocational and academic study.

“The General Education and Training Certificate now formally creates pathways into the TVET system and it is now time for all to recognise that the country needs the skills development focus rather than the academic focus.”

The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa said they supported the GEC policy because the current education system did not cater for the different range of pupil aptitudes and abilities.

Independent On Saturday

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