Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, says the General Education Certificate (GEC) is scheduled for a roll-out in 2023.
Motshekga revealed this while delivering her department’s budget vote debate in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.
She said the policy framework for the introduction of the GEC had already been provisionally approved by quality assurer, Umalusi, and that the process is underway to gazette and invite for public comments.
“A blueprint document on assessment options, linked to career-pathing and future work skills, has been developed. This blueprint will inform learners, teachers, parents and the system in general about the suitability of learners to undertake an academic, vocational or occupational track in Grades 10-12,” she said.
The department first spoke of plans to introduce the GEC in 2019 and received a backlash for allowing learners to exit school in grade 9. However, the department did clarify that the GEC was not an exit certificate but would give learners an opportunity to access further training in college, for example, at a level below grade 12.
Briefing parliament on the GEC in 2019 Deputy Minister Reginah Mhaule said the GEC would also assist with the dropout rate.
“Currently, there is a high dropout rate before Grade 12, peaking in Grades 10 and 11 (15.2% in 2012). Approximately a third of 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 standardized assessment and a qualification to usher learners into different pathways at the end of compulsory schooling in the form of the GEC,” said Mhaule at the time.
In her budget vote speech, Motshekga also said the department was also working at having standardised assessments at grades 3, 6 and 9 and that the standardised assessment system will be piloted in 2022.