The Department of Basic Education will pilot the new General Education Certificate (GEC) at hundreds of South African schools in 2022, with plans to roll out the certificate to all schools in the country by the 2024 school year.
Speaking at a media briefing on Thursday (20 January), Basic Education minister said Angie Motshekga said the GEC is seen as an ‘important and progressive qualification’ that will improve career pathing, employability and reduce dropout rates of South African students.
“It allows for learners after 10 years of schooling (Grade R9), to be recognised for their levels of curriculum attainment, general capabilities and talents.
“Information and scores from the 21st-century skills into School-Based Assessment (SBA); standardised curriculum tests and through an inclination (or talent) assessment, will be used to generate a report card, reflecting a holistic dashboard of learner’s skills and capabilities.”
Motshekga said broad consultations around the certificate have already taken place with stakeholders, partners, and experts on the most appropriate model for the GEC, and public comments have been considered in introducing the policy.
“This year, about 300 schools will participate in the GEC pilot, with further up-scaling planned for 2023. By 2024, all schools will be participating in GEC policy,” she said.
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.
While the department has reiterated that this is not an exit point for learners from the school system: 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.