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Media Release

24 March, 2004

WCED to test Grade 8 learners

Statement by Adv. André Gaum, Minister of Education in the Western Cape

For the first time, the Western Cape Education Department will test the language and numeracy skills of Grade 8 learners this year (2004) in all high schools in the province.

The tests are highly significant, because they will help us to guide the subject and future career choices of our learners, while also collecting data we can use to address specific teaching and learning problems.

The tests will complement the PACE programme now running in our high schools, which helps learners to make informed and responsible subject choices in Grade 9 for Further Education and Training, or FET, which covers Grades 10 to 12.

Learners in Grade 8 this year (2004) will be the first to write examinations for the new Further Education and Training Certificate (FETC), which will replace the Senior Certificate in 2008.

Learners will be able to opt for either the FETC (General), obtained by completing Grade 12 successfully in ordinary schools, and FETC (General Vocational) and FETC (Trade, Occupational and Professional), obtained in FET colleges.

According to school enrolment figures in the Western Cape, many learners drop out of school before obtaining their Senior Certificate.

Various studies have shown that one of the main reasons for the drop out rate is because learners have not enrolled for appropriate programmes.

The WCED has therefore embarked on a major campaign to provide career-related guidance to learners in Grade 9.

As part of this programme, the WCED will assess all Grade 8 learners this year in Language (English or Afrikaans) and Mathematics.

These tests, in conjunction with the PACE careers programme, will assist learners in making suitable career choices. In addition, they will help to identify areas where we need to provide additional support to schools, and to benchmark learner performance against international standards.

Grade 8 learners will write the Language test on 19 May 2004, and the Mathematics test on 27 July 2004.

The learners will write the tests under formal examination conditions, similar to those governing the Senior Certificate examinations.

The tests will not form part of the learners' progression results. The WCED does not expect learners to learn specific content. The aim of the tests is simply to assess the extent to which learners are performing at levels considered to be appropriate for Grade 8.

The results of the tests will complement the results of surveys conducted by our PACE programme, which looks at the abilities and strengths of learners, which a view to providing career guidance and more informed subject choices.

The content of the PACE programme is designed to meet the Life Orientation learning area outcomes. The aim of the programme is to ensure that every learner has a portfolio of evidence of his or her achievements in preparation for FET or the workplace.

Other envisaged benefits are:

  • Learners' morale and motivation will increase after having been exposed to the programme in a meaningful way.
  • More appropriate realistic and relevant subject choices will be made in Grade 9. The programme also informs learners of job trends and opportunities.
  • Informative study choices will decrease the drop out rate and increase the throughput in FET.

The tests and the introduction of our new career guidance strategies will play key roles in human resource development in the Western Cape, by ensuring that learners make informed choices at an early stage, well before they are tempted to drop out of school.

These strategies will help us to channel many more learners towards vocational, technical and professional education in FET colleges, and will generally help to ensure that many more learners have the opportunity of opting for careers suited to their aptitudes and interests.

In this way, we are in the process of gearing our system to ensure that we "grow the Cape", in line with our iKapa Elihlumayo strategy.

Inquires: Rudi Buys at  082 577 6551

Issued by:
Paddy Attwell
Director: Communication
Western Cape Education Department
Tel: 021 467 2531
Fax: 021 461 3694
Cell: 083 261 7699
Email: pattwell@pgwc.gov.za

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2004 WCED