IEB’s International Secondary Certificate launches in Namibia, Eswatini and Mozambique
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA: The Independent Examinations Board (IEB) has launched the International Secondary Certificate, (IEB-ISC), a qualification comparable to existing local and global qualifications that mark successful achievement at the end of secondary education and provides entrance to tertiary study. The ISC was developed by the IEB in response to recent changes in South Africa’s regulatory framework for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) – the matric school leaving qualification.
“Given the long association that the IEB has with independent schools throughout the continent, it has developed the ISC qualification to serve them together with any other independent educational institutions that offer education services outside South Africa. The ISC is housed under the IEB’s new operational unit - IEB International – and is being introduced in Namibia, Eswatini and Mozambique in 2022. The intention is to expand the ISC to independent schools in other countries across the continent, and potentially even further afield. Independent schools that operate outside South Africa and distance educational institutions including online schools that provide tuition for students outside South Africa, may register with the IEB to offer the ISC qualification,” explains Anne Oberholzer, CEO of the Independent Examinations Board (IEB).
A quality, internationally comparable school-leaving qualification with roots in Africa
Universities South Africa (USAF) has already evaluated the IEB-ISC qualification and curriculum documents and has determined that a candidate who obtains the IEB-ISC will have met the minimum requirements for admission to degree study programmes in South African public and private Higher Education Institutions, with the proviso that the IEB offers the qualification in a foreign country and the candidate obtains the qualification with Merit or at the Advanced level and is offered a place at a South African University.
Furthermore, the ISC has been benchmarked by Ecctis Ltd in the UK which has developed comparability statements which compare the ISC to the education systems of the UK and Australia respectively – and Ecctis has found the ISC comparable to both. Ecctis has benchmarked the 20-credit subjects as equivalent to the AS level, while the 30- and 36-credit subjects have been benchmarked as equivalent to A-level. In respect of Australia, the ISC is considered comparable to the Australian Senior Secondary Certificate of Education standard. In New South Wales, this level is represented by the Higher School Certificate. Ecctis Ltd. performs the function of evaluating foreign qualifications on behalf of the UK government.
The Stellenbosch University Unit for International Credentialing (SU-UIC) will be responsible for the quality assurance processes for the IEB-ISC. IEB-International will therefore manage the development, conduct, external assessment and examinations of the IEB-ISC, while the oversight role of external quality assurance will be carried out under the auspices of Stellenbosch University.
The IEB has an excellent reputation both locally and internationally, with some 250 universities across the world that have enrolled students from IEB schools who have been successful in the NSC offered by the IEB. In addition, several universities accept IEB students because they have successfully completed the Advanced Programme subjects. These extension programmes have been developed for English and Afrikaans as well as Mathematics and Physics. In the ISC, these Advanced Programmes have been incorporated into the qualification as choice subjects – known as ‘Further Studies’ subjects (referred to as the 30- and 36-credit subjects mentioned in the Ecctis benchmarking report).
“The ISC is a quality, school leaving qualification, and with the inclusion of the Further Studies subjects, it is a qualification that holds its own internationally. It should also be emphasised that the efforts to ensure comparability of the ISC with the rest of the world are crucial, while at the same time, we are able to retain our own curriculum and the vision, ideals and strengths of the African nations that set us apart from the rest of the world. It means we are able to retain our own identity while at the same time, ensuring education through a curriculum that enjoys international and local recognition, while at the same time ensuring that we contribute to the national learning project of each country where the ISC is offered,” says Oberholzer.
ISC rollout begins in 2022
Although the ISC curriculum begins in Grade 10, the first Grade 12 examinations for the IEB-ISC will take place in October 2022. These learners have been following the NSC curriculum in Grades 10 and 11 and therefore it will be necessary to accommodate their transition from the NSC curriculum to the ISC curriculum. Current Grade 11 learners will have been very adequately prepared to face the ISC examinations in 2022 at Grade 12 level.
“Changes will be minimal and schools have already been briefed by our assessment specialists in respect of preparations for these examinations. The IEB will provide the necessary support to schools in addition to holding conferences for teachers to re-assure them that their preparation of learners through Gr 10 and 11 will be more than adequate to prepare their learners for their Grade 12 year. In addition, the IEB will provide exemplar examination papers, so that learners are familiar with the question paper layout and can see that the kinds of questions are very similar to what they have been exposed to previously in the NSC,” concludes Oberholzer.