New school certificate for South Africa coming in 2025

 ·28 Mar 2023

The Department of Basic Education is pushing ahead with its plans to introduce a new school certificate for grade 9 learners – but the full rollout will now be a year later, in 2025.

Speaking at an education sector media briefing this past weekend, basic education minister Angie Motshekga said that the piloting of the General Education Certificate is progressing, after the certificate was introduced at 270 schools across all nine provinces in 2022.

In 2023, the pilot has increased to 1,000 schools. While initially expected to roll out to all schools in South Africa in 2024, the pilot will instead be expanded again that year, with the full rollout now planned for 2025.

The minister said that the extended pilot period will provide the department with “further learnings” on how to strengthen the quality of the assessment tools used for the certificate, and how to better infuse these tools into school-based assessments and how to generate a holistic GEC report card for learners.

“The purpose of the GEC is to provide learners with expanded opportunities to display their capabilities on inquiry-based learning, solving real-world problems and designing practical solutions which will better prepare them for further education and training and the world of work,” Motshekga said.

“The assessment instruments have been designed to integrate the learning of 21st-century skills within the scope of expected curriculum competencies.”

In 2023, on top of the pilot extending to more schools, the number of participating schools will also represent schools of skill and all 75 education districts, with further up-scaling planned for 2024. In 2025, all schools are expected to participate in the GEC at the grade 9 level.

The certificate has been criticised, with naysayers accusing the department of creating an exit point for learners in grade 9, discouraging a push-through to matric.

The department has stressed that this is not an exit point for learners from the school system. Instead, the certificate will provide better decision-making for learners, especially those who may shift focus to more technical subjects and trades instead of a singular focus on a college or university education.

Under the current system, hundreds of students leave the school system each year without a qualification, hindering them from finding jobs, the department said. If these learners have a certificate, they can at least move on to some other form of training.

“It allows for learners, after ten years of schooling (Grade 9), to be recognised for their levels of curriculum attainment, general capabilities and talents,” it said.

Recent data from Stats SA shows that unemployment is rising among all levels of education in South Africa. However, those with a tertiary qualification still have the best chance of finding a job.

The data shows that those with any certification below a matric have the highest unemployment rate and the lowest absorption rate in the country, with both these metrics getting worse over the last five years.

Conversely, those with some form of tertiary education have the lowest unemployment rate and the highest chance of being absorbed into the job market.

Read: You need more than matric for the best chance at a job in South Africa

Show comments
Subscribe to our daily newsletter