3 big changes coming to schools in South Africa

The Department of Basic Education is working on several short to medium-term changes which are aimed at drastically improving the education outcomes in the country.

Presenting its plans to parliament this week, the department said that these changes will be made across the education sector in a move to better prepare the country’s children for the working world.


Early Education and the foundation phase

At the start of April 2022, the Department of Social Development handed over the responsibility of early childhood development to the Department of Basic Education, paving the way for earlier schooling in South Africa.

Two years of early childhood development (ECD) is set to become compulsory for all children before they enter the formal school system in grade 1.

Explaining the importance of the shift to parliament, the department noted that more South African children are expected to begin reading earlier, with higher standards of reading expected to be introduced in the earlier primary school grades.

The move is also expected to provide better monitoring systems, including systems to gauge the school readiness of children when they enter grade 1.

The department said that it also plans to provide further support to Foundation Phase (Grade R – Grade 3) teachers, including Individualised coaching and Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) tools. It has also pledged to strengthen school-level Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to advance teacher capacity.


General Education and Training

The department also confirmed that it is planning to move forward with the introduction of the General Education Certificate (GEC) at the end of Grade 9 to facilitate the flow between the schools and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

The GEC is intended to formally recognise learners’ achievements at the end of the compulsory phase of schooling. Its primary purpose is to facilitate subject choices beyond Grade 9 and articulation between schools and TVET colleges.

Under the current system, hundreds of students leave the school system each year without a qualification, hindering them from finding jobs.

However, the department has reiterated that this is not an exit point for learners from the school system and is expected to help ensure compulsory completion of schooling from Grade R  up to grade 9;


Further Education and Training (FET)

The department also pledged to the improvement of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) matric pass rate, including:

  • Increasing the number of learners obtaining a Bachelor’s pass in the NSC by 190,000 in 2024;
  • Increasing the number of students with a 60% mark in mathematics and physical science to 35,000;
  • Increased access to vocational-oriented subjects in Grade 10 – 12, particularly computing and engineering subjects;
  • More schools meet minimum infrastructure standards, and standards relating to decent sanitation.

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3 big changes coming to schools in South Africa