On the eve of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Matric examinations, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has again clarified, this time in Parliament, the nuances around the General Education Certificate (GEC) General Occupational Certificate (GOC) for Grade 9.
This stems from what the DBE says is the “misinterpretation” of Minister Angie Motshekga’s GCE announcement at a SADTU National Congress last month, and which sparked huge public debate around the issue.
The Department reiterated that contrary to media reports stating that “learners would finish school in Grade 9,” the DBE emphasized that GEC is not an exit certificate.
“The GEC and GOC will enable learners to elect various pathways and in fact continue with their education at different institutions where they will be exposed to skills training in available trades,” said the minister.
Motshekga told Parliament’s education committee that the GEC was part of a skills revolution and to “create an enabling environment for an integrated approach to education and training.”
Deputy Basic Education Minister Reginah Mhaule, pointed out that approximately a third of South Africa’s young people aged 15-24 years (3.4 million), are not in employment, education or training (NEET) and 2 million of whom have not finished Grade 12.
“Collectively this points to the need for a standardised assessment and a qualification to usher learners into different pathways at the end of compulsory schooling in the form of the GEC,” she said.
The DBE said the GEC is aimed at enabling learners to take advantage of further education opportunities that exist as the GEC also “provides a standardised benchmark against which schools can compare their internal assessments” while bringing these qualifications to parity with the South African National Qualifications.
“This will allow for the enhanced quality of education and training while facilitating smoother access, mobility and progression within education, training and career paths,” emphasised Chief Director for Curriculum Moses Simelane.
The GEC aims to address the mismatch between the available skills and competencies against the expectations and requirements of the labour market.
The DBE said it has has worked closely with industries from aviation to maritime to develop the curriculum that will assist learners to enter the job markets by ensuring that the courses offered will be relevant and which will add value to the respective industries.
South Africa, the Department said, is refocusing the curriculum towards a competence‐based approach, integrating the 21st century skills and competencies across the subjects and introducing new subjects and programmes that are responsive to the demands of the changing world.
The GEC certificate is predicated on a Three-Stream Model: an academic pathway, a technical vocational avenue, and a technical /occupational stream.
The DBE outlined the objectives of the proposed Three Stream Model:
- To implement learning pathways that meet the diverse needs of the young people in the country;
- To empower learners to be creative and organised system thinkers
- To promote the acquisition of skills and competencies for a changing world
- To focus on the foundational skills of reading, writing and counting (arithmetic); and
- To improve the quality and efficiency of learning outcomes throughout the sector.
“The proposal of the GEC and three stream model is not new,” said Motshekga.
“The sector is now moving towards implementation, as this will not only fundamentally/radically change the Education and Training Landscape, but will contribute immensely to the skills revolution desperately needed by the country.”