File photo: David Ritchie / African News Agency (ANA)

The Department of Basic Education has denied that the General Education Certificate (GEC) was a school leaving certificate after reports that pupils will in the future have a choice to exit school at Grade 9 instead of Grade 12.  

The department said the reports were a misrepresentation of what Minister Angie Motshekga said on Thursday when she was addressing the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) in Nasrec, Johannesburg. 

It had been reported that Motshekga had told the delegates that a framework was underway to introduce GEC, which would allow pupils to exit schooling before Grade 12. 

“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 was quoted. 

However, the statement said what the minister was quoted to have said was further from the truth. 

“As a result the message communicated by media reports is unfortunately causing confusion as it is not a true reflection of what the minister meant in her speech,” read the statement.

The department said Matshekga actually said a field trial for GEC at the end of Grade 9 was scheduled to be completed in July next year.

“A draft framework for the GEC has been developed. Assessment and examination modalities for the GEC are being investigated and have been presented at the HEDCOM (Higher Education Committee) meeting. 

“The Technical Occupational subjects have been packaged and submitted to Umalusi for approval,” said the statement.

It further said the aim of bringing in GEC was to introduce more pupils into technical education as there was a need to produce 10 000 artisans

every year. 

“The department has also introduced new subjects - technical mathematics and technical science - which could be referred to as applied mathematics and applied science,” the statement said. 

The department said the GEC would equip learners with the values, knowledge and skills that will enable them meaningful participation in society and establish a firm foundation for skills develop that will prepare students for the workplace.

“Offering a GEC is not an indication of the exit of learners from a learning pathway in schools but provides better decision-making for and access to further learning after Grade 9,” read the statement.

Following reports, Motshekga received a flurry of attacks with Sonwabile Spayidile tweeting: “Angie Motshekga is too old her ideas are really destroying the quality of our education, she must retire and let young people run this Department”.

WEST tweeted: “ Minister Angie Motshekga our TVET Colleges are not even well budgeted for, Students are without books, 24/7 hrs libraries & computers, students in lephalale tvet still submit hand written assignmnts while ur kids are preparing themselvs 4IR!WORSE NSFAS FOR TVETS IS DISASTROUS”. 

Political Bureau