The proposal of a Grade 9 certificate for school leavers is nothing more than a plan to lower the failure rate of learners in higher grades, and especially those in matric.
Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education, yesterday announced the Grade 9 certificates a soon to be exit point for schooling as the Department of Basic Education works on introducing a general education certificate.
Motshekga explained that the proposal was part of creating a “world-class assessment system” that included a new cycle of evaluation at strategic levels of education, culminating with the achievement of a General Education Certificate (GEC) before going onto Matric.
The plan will let 15-year-olds legally leave school, three years earlier than scheduled.
The question is how such a certificate would benefit a 15-year-old learner in an environment where there is already a high number of unemployed gradates?
Motshekga herself pointed out that a Grade 9 general education certificate would go a long way to reducing the matric failure rate and that it would save less successful learners “a lot of pain, heartache and time” when failing and repeating higher grades.
The bar is set lower as to soothe South Africans into believing that they have achieved some level of worthwhile education while the result for many will no doubt be a life of unemployment and continued poverty.
UASA’s 18th South African Employment Report (SAER) made it clear that South Africa is one of the few countries in the world where there are more adults not at work than adults at work.
The report stated the magnitude of this was the single biggest crisis facing South Africa. South Africa is the only country that has had a 20% plus unemployment rate for over two decades.
Apart from the number of unemployed‚ the report noted that 6.1-million South Africans were physically looking for work‚ stating this was according to the official definition which in 2017 made South Africa the country with the highest unemployment rate in the world.
Working-age South Africans are six times more likely to be unemployed than the average adult worldwide and the unemployment rate in South Africa is higher than that of the United States during the Great Depression when unemployment reached 25%.
The SAER also states that we need more educated people to be able to cope in this fourth industrial revolution. We need highly educated individuals who can not only adapt to changing environments in their fields, but who can cope with the ever changing world of work as whole.
Perhaps the Department of Basic Education should look at adapting the school syllabus to accommodate learners who may wish to pursue technical studies, rather than shrugging off its responsibilities by lowering standards and pushing students out of the system earlier.
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