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Motshekga plans to overhaul the school system

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga recently briefed the media in Cape Town on plans the South African government’s human development cluster had to boost the quality of education.  She said her department was looking at rolling out scholar transport to pupils in rural areas and was in talks with the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and the National Treasury to find ways to increase the amount of funding necessary to build new schools.

She also stressed that the commitment and hard work of teachers and school governing bodies is key to making schools more successful.

Other aspects of the plan includes enrolling all children for Grade R and increasing the number of Grade 12 students who pass matric exams and who qualify for university from 105 000 to 175 00 by 2014.

The Department also plans to increase the number of Grade 12 students who pass maths and science exams from 165 000 to 225 000 by 2014 and to double the number of learners in Grade 3, 6 and 9 in public schools who obtain the minimum acceptable marks.

Agreement has also been reached with with unions to reduce the number of strike hours. The administrative burden of continuous task assessment has been reduced too.

Learning and teaching packs for Grade R teachers, containing lesson plans, learners’ workbooks and story books among other things, has been distributed to all 13 900 schools that offer Grade R.

The Department has also introduced an assessment for grades 3, 6 and 9 in an effort to lay a sold foundation of learning and to measure the success of interventions in literacy and numeracy.

To read more go to the Bua News article on allAfrica.com by Clicking Here!

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President Jacob Zuma places education and skills development at the centre of the South African government’s policies

South African President Jacob Zuma, placed education and skills development at the centre of the South African government’s policies in his State of the Nation Address on 11 February 2010. He announced a number of key activities that will be undertaken to achieve this.

In the government’s 2010 programme, it wants to improve the ability of children to read, write and count in the foundation years. 
The government wants learners and teachers to be in school, in class, on time, learning and teaching for seven hours a day. Teachers will be assisted by providing detailed daily lesson plans. Students will be provided with easy-to-use workbooks in all 11 languages.

Zuma also announced that from this year onwards, all grade 3, 6 and 9 students will write literacy and numeracy tests that are independently moderated. The aim is to increase the pass rate for these tests from the current average of between 35 and 40% to at least 60% by 2014. Results will be sent to parents to track progress.

In addition, each of the country’s 27 000 schools will be assessed by officials from the Department of Basic Education. This will be recorded in an auditable written report.

The government aims to increase the number of matric students who are eligible for university admission to 175 000 a year by 2014,  he continued.
He urged parents to cooperate with the government in making this a success. He also welcomed last month’s statement by the three teacher unions, NAPTOSA, SADTU and SAOU, reaffirming their commitment to the Quality Learning and Teaching Campaign from the beginning of 2010.

Zuma further stressed the need to invest in the youth to ensure a skilled and capable workforce to support growth and job creation. He then announced a plan to increase the training of 16-25 year olds in further education and training facilities to provide a second chance at education, for those who do not qualify for university.

The government is working with higher education institutions to ensure that eligible students obtain financial assistance, through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, he said.

He also announced that the government has set ambitious targets for skills development, to produce additional engineers and technicians, and to increase the number of qualified mathematics and science teachers.

Zuma also stressed that the number of youth who enter learnerships in the private and public sectors, should be increased.

To read the full State of the Nation Address on IOL Click Here!

University students in South Africa can’t read?

The recent publication in South Africa of the results of pilots of the new National Benchmark Tests – tests which measure the performance of school-leavers in three key areas and aim to predict whether or not they will have difficulty as they enter university – has brought a flurry of outrage from academics and politicians. They are reported as claiming that standards are dropping and students can’t read or write. While this sort of knee-jerk reaction to tests conducted at a national level is largely predictable, especially in a country where the school system still experiences huge problems, it is also questionable given research produced in the field of academic development – an area which has long concerned itself with the issue of student ‘under-preparedness’ at universities…….

To read the rest of this article by Chrissey Boughey on University World News Click Here!