New Grade 9 Certificate in 2025: Empowering South African Youth with Skills & Opportunities

Published by
WIlliam Dube

The South African Department of Basic Education is moving forward with its plans to introduce a new General Education Certificate (GEC) for grade 9 learners, with the full implementation now scheduled for 2025, a year later than initially planned.

  1. The South African Department of Basic Education plans to fully implement the new General Education Certificate (GEC) for grade 9 learners in 2025, following an extended pilot program.
  2. The GEC aims to provide students with broader learning opportunities, focusing on inquiry-based learning, problem-solving, and practical skills, better preparing them for further education, vocational training, and the job market.
  3. Despite facing criticism as a potential exit point from the school system, the GEC is designed to facilitate better decision-making for learners and provide a qualification that helps them transition to other forms of training.

During an education sector media briefing held this past weekend, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga provided an update on the GEC pilot program’s progress. After the certificate’s introduction in 270 schools across all nine provinces in 2022, the pilot expanded to 1,000 schools in 2023. Although the GEC was initially expected to be implemented in all South African schools by 2024, the pilot will be further expanded that year, with the complete rollout now slated for 2025.

According to Minister Motshekga, extending the pilot period will allow the department to gather “further learnings” on how to enhance the quality of the assessment tools used for the GEC. The department aims to improve the integration of these tools into school-based assessments and develop a comprehensive GEC report card for learners.

The GEC’s primary objective is to offer learners broader opportunities to demonstrate their abilities in inquiry-based learning, problem-solving, and practical solution design. These skills will better prepare students for further education, vocational training, and the world of work. The assessment instruments have been developed to incorporate 21st-century skills within the scope of the expected curriculum competencies.

In addition to expanding the pilot to more schools in 2023, participating schools will also represent schools of skill and all 75 education districts. Further up-scaling is planned for 2024, with the expectation that all schools will participate in the GEC at the grade 9 level in 2025.

The introduction of the GEC has faced criticism, with detractors accusing the department of creating an exit point for learners in grade 9, thereby discouraging the pursuit of matriculation. However, the department has emphasized that the GEC is not intended as an exit point from the school system. Instead, the certificate aims to facilitate better decision-making for learners, particularly those considering a shift toward more technical subjects and trades, rather than focusing solely on college or university education.

Under the current system, hundreds of students leave the school system each year without a qualification, significantly impacting their ability to find jobs. With the GEC in place, these learners will have a certificate that can help them transition to other forms of training. The department explains that the GEC will recognize learners’ levels of curriculum attainment, general capabilities, and talents after ten years of schooling (Grade 9).

Recent data from Stats SA reveals that unemployment is on the rise among all education levels in South Africa. However, those with tertiary qualifications still have the best chance of securing a job. The data indicates that individuals with any certification below matric have the highest unemployment rate and the lowest absorption rate in the country, with both metrics worsening over the past five years. In contrast, those with some form of tertiary education enjoy the lowest unemployment rate and the highest likelihood of being absorbed into the job market.

WIlliam Dube

William Dube is a finance and economic news expert with over 10 years of experience in economic anaylsis, financial product assessment and market analysis. With a numerous certificates from prestigious universities including but not limited to Yale University and the University of Pennyslivenia. William specializes in providing insightful news developments in South Africa and commentary on investment strategies, risk management, and global economic trends. You can contact him on

Published by
WIlliam Dube

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