New Exit Certificate Being Trialed In Schools

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The introduction of a new grade nine certificate has caused a stir in South Africa. However, the education department says the certificate is not intended as a exit qualification. 

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The Department of Basic Education (DBE) is piloting the General Education Certificate (GEC). The GEC is intended to formally recognise learners' achievements at the end of the compulsory phase of schooling and expand the learning pathways and success opportunities of South African Grade 9 learners. 

DBE Director for Curriculum and Implementation Monitoring Moses Simelane says the GEC serves as a standardised measure to recognise learners' achievements after compulsory schooling, specifically at the end of Grade 9. 

Firstly it is to provide a measure, a standardised measure that will recognize learners' achievements at the end of compulsory schooling.

The certificate aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of learners' knowledge, skills, and competencies which will guide them into suitable career pathways.

The assessment process for the GEC encompasses three main components including knowledge and skills, competencies, and inclination. They explain that by evaluating these aspects, educators can gain a deeper understanding of each learner's capabilities and interests, facilitating informed decisions regarding their educational and career trajectories.

The qualification will also look at assessing learners' competencies... a demonstration of what learners can do with the Knowledge and Skills that they have acquired.

Simelane emphasised that the GEC is not intended solely as an exit qualification but rather as an access qualification, enabling learners to access various streams tailored to their preferences. 

It cannot be seen as an exit qualification but it is an access qualification.

The Three Streams model encompasses academic, vocational, and occupational pathways, each offering distinct opportunities for further education and career development.

The academic stream is the stream that we always had as a Department of Education…We are introducing two additional streams: The Vocational as well as the Occupational.

Simelane added that the GEC has undergone a rigorous quality assurance process by Umalusi, ensuring its credibility and relevance within the educational landscape.

Addressing concerns about the GEC's impact on dropout rates, Simelane clarified that the certificate aims to empower learners to choose career pathways aligned with their interests and aptitudes, rather than artificially inflating pass rates. 

They highlighted the department's efforts to collaborate with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to accommodate learners seeking vocational and occupational skills development.

Simelane stressed the importance of the GEC in preparing learners for the 21st-century workforce, equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate evolving career landscapes.

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