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Dysfunctional schools must be debated urgently in parliament – DA

The statement by the CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools that approximately 90% of schools are dysfunctional, confirms the need for an urgent parliamentary debate on the state of our education system, the Democratic Alliance (DA) recently said.

The DA suggested a solution-driven parliamentary debate that can provide a platform for an honest and open discussion on education where representatives from all political parties can exchange ideas on pragmatic solutions to important challenges in education.

Topics of such a debate according to them should include:

  • Plans to stem teacher attrition and fill teacher vacancies
  • Addressing basic infrastructure and sanitation backlogs: 2 401 of South Africa’s 24 739 public schools do not have water, 3 544 do not have electricity and 11 450 are still using pit latrines, 22 938 schools do not having stocked libraries, 21 021 do not have any laboratory facilities and 19 037 do not have computer centres (statistics from the National Education Infrastructure Management System Report 2011)
  • Textbook and workbook delivery, e.g. the Limpopo textbook crisis and further reports on book dumping and burning and books delivered in incorrect languages
  • Educator accountability and performance

To read more go to Annette Lovemore’s article on allAfrica by Clicking Here!

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Poorest schools perform worst in national assessment tests

The recent South African Report on the National Assessments (ANA), showed that the poorest schools fared worst in national assessment tests.

The ANA written in February 2011, involving almost six million learners in primary schools throughout South Africa represents one of the most significant proactive interventions by Government to strengthen the foundational skills of Literacy and Numeracy among South African learners.

The report showed that primary school children from the provinces Mpumalanga, Limpopo, and Northwest could not even reach the basic skill levels for literacy and numeracy. The reason for this according to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga is socio-economical.

Nationally learners in Grade 3 obtained an average of 35 % for literacy and 28 % for numeracy, and Grade 6 learners an average of 28 % for literacy and 30 % for numeracy.

The percentage of schools that could not obtain the basic literacy skills can be summed up as follows:

Province Grade 3 Grade 6
Western Cape 41 41
Eastern Cape 45 67
KZN 48 68
Free State 50 80
Gauteng 53 54
Limpopo 61 85
Northwest 63 83
Northern Cape 66 70
Mpumalanga 67 85

To read the Afrikaans article by Antoinette Pienaar in the Beeld newspaper Click Here!

To read the Report on Annual National Assessments of 2011 Click Here!

National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) launched

South African Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga officially launched the National Education Evaluation and Development Unit (NEEDU) in Pretoria recently and hailed it as a critical milestone in the journey towards quality education in South Africa.

NEEDU will be tasked with providing the Minister with an independent account of the state of schools and the development needs of the school education system through a monitoring and evaluation system.

The unit will also be responsible for identifying the factors that inhibit or advance school improvement; make recommendations for redressing the problem areas that undermine school improvement and to propose appropriate solutions to ensure that schools offer effective education for all learners.

Motshekga highlighted the fact that NEEDU will have the authority to conduct monitoring and evaluation of “schools, districts, provinces and the national department”.

“The entire system has to be monitored and evaluated in terms of how it is able or unable to support schools, learners, teachers, school managers, workers and parents,” Motshekga said.

“However, we emphasise schools because it is schools that are at the heart of our delivery. It is in schools where our main purpose for existence is. They are the most important unit in our work and the success of our sector should be judged by their performance and all our activities should be targeted at supporting schools and making them work.”

To read more on the Dept of Basic Education’s web site Click Here!

Motshekga unveils Master Plan for Education in South Africa

The South African Department of Basic Education has developed an action plan to co-ordinate and guide all interventions in the department in order to turn the education system around.

The plan, which will be known as Schooling 2025: The Department of Basic Education’s Action Plan, will provide long-term solutions to the challenges facing the department, said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

The plan will make provision for the monitoring of progress against a set of measurable indicators covering all aspects of basic education, including teacher recruitment and retention, learner enrolment and well-being, infrastructure, school funding, mass literacy and educational quality.

“The plan will establish key outcomes and performance deliverables for the entire education system, including the national and provincial departments.
“It will commit provinces and provincial education departments to clear, agreed-to outcomes and ensure that all in the system are accountable for attaining these outcomes,” Motshekga said.

She reiterated that South Africa’s learning outcomes continued to be unsatisfactory.

“All local and international assessments are agreed that far too many of our learners, especially African learners, do not perform at the required level.

“We have identified the underlying factors and we are determined to work systematically to resolve them,” said Motshekga.

She added that the adoption of an outcomes approach in implementing government’s priorities, announced by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address, will ensure that the work of government is measured according to outcomes.

“The outcomes approach enables us to set measurable targets and deliverables, against which we and South Africa can monitor our progress in addressing the challenges in education that remain.”

This article was obtained from BuaNews Online  and was compiled by the South African Government Communication and Information System.

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!

ANC government plans to split the Department of Education

ANC Secretary-general Gwede Mantashe confirmed during a meeting of the Progressive Business Forum, that the ANC government that is installed after the election, plans to overhaul the education ministry, splitting it into two or three separate ministries under different ministers.

This means that one minister will focus solely on the schooling system, and another will look with a specialised focus at tertiary education institutions, which could include reversing former education minister Kader Asmal’s mergers of key institutions.

To read more go to the Finance 24 article by Clicking Here!