The recent dissemination of the General Education and Training Certificate for Adults (GETCA) is a marvelous opportunity for industry, public and private stakeholders to unite their efforts in establishing a conceptual foundation to lifelong learning for all.
Not only is the GETCA a whole qualification, but its comparitive qualifications, Thuto Ga E Golewle (It’s never too late to learn) adult basic education programme in Botswana and the Preparation for Work and Study – Australia are helpful benchmarks. In addition, the GETCA takes into consideration the voices of industry and formal education, speaking to the social, economic and civic needs of our unique and diverse society.
The GETCA sits perfectly within the Umalusi GFETQ sub-framework, at the first exit level at NQF 01. The GETCA is one of three qualifications earmarked for specifically the adult audience. Other proposed qualifications such as the National Independent Certificate and the National Senior Certificate for Adults may provide those critical links and opportunities to further and higher education that adults have been excluded from in the past.
One of the most significant differences between the GETC: ABET and the GETCA, is that the GETCA is built around a curriculum instead of a selection of unit standards. Generally, a good curriculum potentially fuses together core areas of learning, anchoring critical knowledge, skills, attitudes and values coherently that increase the learners’ chances of grasping the depth of concepts, rather than skimming over it.
Furthermore, the GETCA requires of an adult to do four subjects, not six, as was the case of the GETC: ABET. Focusing the learning and development efforts of adults on four specific focus areas not only relieves them of two subjects, but fortifies knowledge and skills in terms of breadth and depth.
This new whole qualification is more learner-centred and accessible to the adult learner. It is comforting to realise that the needs and unique characteristics of the adult learner has been taken into account since it requires equal credits (30 each) for language, mathematics or mathematical literacy and a choice of two additional subjects.
The adult learner wanting to earn a GETCA will need to write a national examination for each subject with an accredited assessment body. A minimum of 50% is required in each of the subjects. In terms of the proposed rating codes, learners achieving between 50% and 69% will receive a rating of 3. Motivated and keen learners may achieve the GETCA in as little as 12 months.
However, the GETCA is not a superfast solution to the eradication of illiteracy. Authentic baseline assessments remain critical to identify learners who may enter into the GETCA directly and those who need more fundamental skills in preparation of moving into the GETCA. The latter will need AET (ABET) intervention to strengthen and build the foundation on which the qualification will sit.
In addition to the GETCA, adult learners will soon have a pathway into the GETCA’s big brother, the NASCA (National Senior Certificate for Adults). Both qualifications are modelled in a similar manner to ensure that the adult learner is no longer marginalised, but has an authentic and legitimate pathway into further and higher education.
Roughly, a quarter of the South African adult population is un-or undereducated. Educated parents bring up educated children, which is why adult education remains a critical component to the future success of our country. If all the children in our country can leave school with only basic reading skills, poverty could be diminished by more than ten percent, which is really great for business, the economy and every citizen. While current indicators reveal a decrease of confidence in the future of South Africans, the key to economic growth, health, nutrition and demoracy lies in the heart of education.
This qualification is truly a remarkable achievement in South African education history and with its firm, but realistic passmark, it is sure to carry validity and credibility across industries, institutions and society. Our future depends on education.