Basic education minister Angie Motshekga presented her annual budget speech to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) this week, detailing the changes her department has planned for schools in South Africa.
Chief among these will be new regulations which introduce compulsory schooling for younger learners, she said.
To cater for the two years of Early Childhood Development (ECD) prior to Grade 1, section 3 on compulsory attendance of the South African Schools Act is in the process of being amended through the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill, she said.
“After the BELA Bill has been signed into law by the President, attendance at Grade R classes by children who will be turning six years of age, will be compulsory.
“Systematically, this will be followed by the introduction of compulsory attendance in Grade RR classes by children who will be turning five years of age.”
Motshekga said her department has also submitted the draft Coding and Robotics Curriculum to regulator Umalusi for appraisal and quality assurance.
Other subjects and curriculum changes that are being developed include:
- The introduction of Marine Sciences and Aviation as subjects;
- The establishment of ‘Focus schools’ to cater for learners with special talents and aptitudes across a wide range of scholastic endeavours.
- A revision of the History curriculum – including a new focus on African and local history;
- The introduction of more second additional languages including Kiswahili, Khoi, Nama, San languages, as well as the South African Sign Language (SASL).
Motshekga also confirmed the introduction of the General Education Certificate (GEC) for Grade 9 pupils.
The GEC is the qualification at level 1 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) that is intended to formally recognise achievements of learners at the end of the compulsory phase of schooling (GET).
Its primary purpose is to facilitate subject choices beyond Grade 9 and articulation between schools and TVET colleges.
While the department has reiterated that this is not an exit point for learners from the school system, Grade 9 is seen as a point where pupils can shift focus to more technical subjects and trades instead of a singular focus on a college or university education.
The achievement of the General Education Certificate (GEC) is designed to enable learners to access three learning pathways, the department said.
- To continue with an academic route through the completion of the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) in schools, culminating in the achievement of the National Senior Certificate at NQF Level 4.
- To choose a vocational route through completion of the National Certificate: Vocational Qualifications at NQF Levels 2, 3 and 4, which contain vocational specialisations that are offered in TVET Colleges.
- To have access to occupational specific qualifications at NQF Level 2, 3 and 4, which consist of knowledge, skills and work experience and learning, in schools or in other institutions.