Cape Town - South Africa’s economic prospects cannot afford a proposal where “we” allow Grade 9 pupils to leave the schooling system “that would leave them ill-prepared for the fast-changing world we live in”.
That was according to student crowdfunding platform Feenix, in response to a proposal by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga in which she floated a plan to introduce a General Education Certificate (GEC) for pupils after completing Grade 9.
Leana de Beer, chief operating officer at Feenix, said Motshekga was mistaken if she believed the new plan would somehow solve the country’s education prospects.
“South Africa has not performed well in international studies on the general literacy levels of our school learners and this new plan could potentially only further worsen the situation.”
De Beer said surveys had shown that Grade 12s were generally performing poorly in terms of maths and science abilities. “It makes no sense then to allow learners to leave the system even earlier which would rob them of three extra years of schooling”.
Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said allowing pupils to exit the system after Grade 9 would drastically reduce the standard of education, which was itself struggling. “We already face a big challenge of unemployment among university graduates. Where do we expect a Grade 9 learner to go to? The move will create problems for society as many lazy learners will opt to end their studies at Grade 9.”
However, Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said they had noted misleading reports claiming that pupils could leave school in Grade 9. “That is further from the truth,” he said.
“It seems the reports emanated from a misinterpretation of what Motshekga said on Thursday at the Sadtu national congress at Nasrec. As a result the message communicated by those reports is unfortunately causing confusion as it is not a true reflection of what the minister meant in her speech.”
He clarified that Motshekga said, “The Field Trial for the GEC at the end of Grade 9 was scheduled for completion at the end of July 2020. A draft framework for the GEC has been developed. Assessment and examination modalities were being investigated and have been presented at the Hedcom meeting. The Technical Occupational subjects have been packaged and submitted to Umalusi for approval.”