It remains unclear whether Namibia will see the desired results once Grade 10 becomes part of the senior secondary phase as of 2019.
Currently the inability of a substantial number of learners to achieve the current 23 point pass mark is evident, which thus hinders them from proceeding to Grade 12.
There will be no more Grade 10 external examinations as from 2019, following a Cabinet decision during 2014 that approved the curriculum reform for basic education as part of basic education reforms.
However, learners will sit for semi-external examinations at the end of the junior secondary phase (in this case at the end of Grade 9).
The semi-external examinations will be set at the national level, marked in the regions, but will be moderated at national level.
The director of the National Institute for Educational Development (NIED), Dr Hertha Pomuti, said the purpose of the semi-external examinations is for quality assurance.
As per the basic education reform, the junior secondary phase is comprised of only two grades: grades 8 and 9.
Asked what prompted government to have Grade 10 external examinations phased out, she said the Junior Secondary Certificate obtained after writing the Grade 10 external examinations is no longer in demand in terms of the job market.
“Most low-level entry employment requires a Senior Secondary Certificate. Remember that most private schools in Namibia have already abolished Grade 10 examinations. We want to keep learners in the school system longer and reduce the high dropout rate at the end of the junior secondary phase, as well as improve access to senior secondary education,” she explained.
In order to extend the duration of senior secondary education from two years to three years Grade 10 will be part of the senior secondary phase as from 2019, she said.
She said there are considerations on the promotional requirements for learners to proceed to senior secondary education, adding that the promotional requirements are still in draft form, and will be approved by the executive management of the ministry before the end of this year.
Pomuti said learners will sit for the Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary (NSSCO) Level examinations at the end of Grade 11, and if they pass these exams, they will receive the Namibian Senior Secondary Certificate Ordinary Level benchmarked against the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE), which is an international qualification for 14 to 16-year-olds.
“This is the same senior secondary qualification as the one that learners obtain at the end of Grade 12 currently. Learners may choose to go to Grade 12 (to study only higher level subjects), seek employment or enter tertiary institutions,” she noted.
Further, she said, learners will sit for the Namibian Senior Secondary Certificate Higher (NSSCH) Level at the end of Grade 12.
The NSSCH is a one-year course, which will be benchmarked against the Cambridge Advanced Subsidiary.
“Grade 12 prepares learners for higher education or employment. Much greater demands are placed on learners in terms of the level of cognitive, personal and social development, in terms of academic achievement and taking greater responsibility for their own learning,” she said.
The new curriculum for the junior secondary phase will be implemented as follows: Grade 8 in 2017 and Grade 9 in 2018.
According to her, the year 2018 will be the last year of the Grade 10 external examinations, adding that from 2019 learners will be writing semi-external examinations at the end of the junior secondary phase, in this case, at the end of Grade 9.