Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga. File photo: ANA/Jacques Naude

CAPE TOWN - Government's plan to "formalise" grade nine as one of the exit points for schooling will further disadvantage the poor and the future of the country, and should be rejected, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Thursday evening revealed that the basic education department (DBE) would introduce "a grade nine leaving certificate called the general education and training certificate and that a draft framework for this certificate had been developed", DA education spokesperson Nomsa Marchesi said.

This disastrous plan would further disadvantage the poor and the future of the country. The plan was akin to "dusting off Hendrik Verwoerd’s education policy, which prescribed that black youth should only receive the kind of education that prepared them for low-skilled and low-paying jobs", Marchesi said.

"The ANC government is not serious about education and this move will only condemn young people to become labourers instead of drivers of innovation and economic development."

It would create yet another generation of young people who were unskilled and ill-equipped to enter the jobs market. Instead of forcing young people into an endless cycle of unemployment and poverty, the DA believed that government should first improve the syllabuses at basic education and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutions to ensure that they offered 21st century training for young people.

The DA had written to the chairperson of Parliament's portfolio committee on basic education, Bongiwe Pricilla Mbinqo-Gigaba, to request that Motshekga and her department brief Parliament on the full details of the proposed plan.

It was outrageous that Parliament’s basic education committee was not consulted or informed about this decision, and the DA believed the minister and her department should be hauled before Parliament to provide the public with the full details of the draft framework.

"We need to know what exactly this plan entails and how it will differ from the current education system that has failed to equip young people with the skills they need to find employment. We want to know what the grade nine certificates will mean to these young people - especially given the fact that even matric certificate holders, as well as some university graduates’ qualifications, are gathering dust. And we also want to know what plans the department has in place to assist grade nine school leavers in upskilling themselves to enter the jobs market," Marchesi said.

Pupils should receive a quality education that stood them in good stead to improve the quality of their lives, and their communities. "South Africa and the youth cannot be shortchanged by politicians who have no vision. The DA stands ready to fight any plan that will further dilute the quality of education," Marchesi said.

African News Agency