The introduction of the General Education Certificate (GEC) as a new method of assessment in the General Education and Training (GET) band is a fundamental approach to improve quality education in South Africa, according to Dr Mark Chetty, Director for National Assessments.
Dr Chetty indicated that the DBE intends to commence with field trials of the standardized assessment instruments in selected schools in 2021. “The sample size and piloting of instruments will be broadened in 2022. The GEC is an important national initiative that will support and strengthen the effective assessment of South African learners’ 21st century skills and knowledge to help guide their future study and career pathways. Its design and implementation will have the robustness of large-scale assessment, equipped with analytics and agility of showcasing individual learner capabilities, talents and skills after 10 years of schooling (Grade R-9). This will provide a collective national dashboard on achieved curriculum competencies and broader learner competencies and skills,” explained Dr Chetty.
The GEC at the end of Grade 9 acknowledges a broad foundation of knowledge and skills as a basis for further learning and study, which could happen in a range of further education institutions. Offering a GEC is not an indication of the exit of learners from a learning pathway in schools but provides better decision-making for and access to further learning after Grade 9. “The GEC will further afford parents an opportunity to obtain a balanced scorecard on their children’s academic performance, with a clear focus on their achieved subject specific competencies and skills, broader developmental skills, and inclinations and talents. As such, the DBE will be able to feed forward data on re-positioning the system towards streaming into both academic, vocational or occupational tracks and future career pathing. In fact, the DBE has already drafted a policy framework. It is currently working with UMALUSI to fast-track the registration of GEC as a qualification on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). A concept document on GEC assessment options has been developed. At this point, the DBE is engaging the Australian Council for Education Research (ACER) on the design of assessment components,” concluded Dr Chetty.