New changes to fight high drop-out rate at South African schools

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education was briefed on South Africa’s new Grade 9 General Education Certificate (GEC) on Tuesday (15 October).

Presented to students upon completing Grade 9, the Department of Education said that the certificate is aimed at addressing the mismatch between available skills and competencies, and the labour market’s needs.

It added that South African schools face a high dropout rate before matric, peaking in Grades 10 and 11 with 15.2% of students dropping out in 2012 alone.

“About a third of young people aged between 15 and 24 years (3.4 million), are not in employment, education or training (NEET) – two million of them have not finished Grade 12.

“There is an absence of a standardised assessment and a qualification to usher learners into different pathways at the end of compulsory schooling,” it said.

New certificates

The committee heard that the primary purpose of the GEC is to:

  • Equip learners with the knowledge and skills that will enable their meaningful participation in society;
  • Contribute towards developing sustainable communities;
  • Provide a basis for learning in further education and training;
  • Establish a firm foundation for the assumption of a productive and responsible role in the workplace

The Department of Education said that the certificate is predicated on the ‘three-stream model’, which includes the traditional academic pathway, the technical vocational pathway and the technical/occupational pathway.

“The objectives of this is to implement learning pathways which meet the diverse needs of the young people of the country, to empower learners to be creative and organised system thinkers, to promote the acquisition of skills and competencies for a changing world, to focus on the foundational skills of reading, writing and counting (arithmetic) and to improve the quality and efficiency of learning outcomes throughout the sector,” it said.

Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga added that the certificate is not intended to say learners must exit the system, but instead merely meant that students ‘are exiting a phase’.

“We want national assessments in Grades 3, Grade 9 and Grade 12,” she said.

While the GEC certificate is still subject to approval, it is expected to be first introduced in 2020.

Needed skills 

The Department of Education said it has worked closely with industries from aviation to maritime to develop the curriculum for these subjects that will assist learners to enter the job markets that lack skilled workers to service these industries formalise the work that has been done, this is with the purpose of ensuring that the courses offered will be relevant and add value to industry.

“South Africa is refocusing the curriculum towards a competency-based approach, integrating the 21st-century skills and competencies across the subjects and introducing new subjects and programmes that are responsive to the demands of the changing world.

“These include coding and robotics, marine sciences, hydro/aquaponics, aviation sciences, design across the curriculum, mathematics and science as well as aviation Studies.

“It is envisaged that these subjects will create interest among young people and encourage them to stay in school. The department is working closely with industry in this regard,” it said.


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New changes to fight high drop-out rate at South African schools