Johannesburg - The National Professional Teachers' Association of SA (Naptosa) has "guardedly" welcomed the Department of Education's proposed introduction of the General Education Certificate (GEC) qualification.
Last week, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga caused a stir when she announced at a South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) conference at Nasrec that a framework was underway to introduce GEC, which would allow learners to exit schooling before Grade 12.
While citizens and political parties slammed the proposal as a bad idea, as many believe it would encourage learners to drop out of school, the department hastened to explain that the certificate was not a school leaving certificate but rather formed part of its plans to ensure young people are equipped with skills and competencies for a changing world.
Naptosa in a statement on Wednesday cautiously threw its weight behind the proposal, with the union's executive director Basil Manuel saying: "The GEC is not a new phenomenon. It has been around since 1995 and was resuscitated in 2008 and has been registered with SAQA as a Level 1 qualification on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
"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 7-9).