South Africa: Grade 9 Exit Certificate Would Give Learners 'An Imminent Sense of Possibility'

analysis

Amid a jobs crisis and a bid to revamp South Africa's struggling education system, the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education in Parliament was briefed about an exit exam qualification that would be implemented after completing the compulsory Grade 9 academic year.

About a third of young people in South Africa aged 15-24 (3.4-million) are not employed, in education, or in training - with two million of them having not finished Grade 12. Without the necessary qualifications - since low-skill jobs often require prospective employees to have completed matric - many have nowhere to go.

The General Education Certificate (GEC) could remedy this by providing a standardised benchmark to measure students' educational achievement, according to a briefing by Basic Education Department official Moses Simelane. It aims at demonstrating learners' skills and abilities to potential employers, and at providing them with what Simelane called an "imminent sense of possibility".

The proposed GEC is a national exit exam that measures students' educational achievement and practical skills. It has not yet been implemented, but will be field-tested next year.

During the meeting, IFP MP Siphosethu Ngcobo expressed his enthusiasm over the credibility of a more standardised system. The MP worried that teachers in the...

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