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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!

Metcalfe Report on Verification of Textbook Deliveries in Limpopo, released

The investigation team, led by former higher education director general Mary Metcalfe, aimed at verifying how many textbooks Limpopo schools have received, were unable to make an accurate assessment of how many books have reached schools as yet.

The team measured deliveries at 10% of the province’s 4 000 schools under the watchful eye of unions, the Congress of South African Students, school governing body associations and the South African Principals’ Association.

Although the team could not complete a full audit of deliveries it did present some “very concerning” findings.

The team found that as of July 3 “only 48% of the books had been delivered to the schools, with 52% of the books still sitting in the district warehouse”, despite claims by the government Department of Basic Education, at a joint briefing with Section 27 on June 28, that approximately 98% of textbooks had been delivered to schools.

To read more go to Victoria John’s article in the Mail & Guardian by Clicking Here!

To download the Metcalfe Report Click Here!

It is possible to reform South Africa’s school system in 6 years – CDE report shows

A report by the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) shows that it is possible to to reform South Africa’s schooling system within 6 years.

“The country needs bold political leadership and a new social compact to improve the quality of schooling”, Ann Bernstein, executive director of CDE said when the report was released recently. The report, “School reform is possible: lessons for South Africa from international experience” summarises discussions that were held with experts from Brazil, Ghana, India and the United States, where significant schooling reforms were implemented.

More information on this can be found in the following articles:

To download the Report 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!

Grammar will still be taught in South African schools

The South African Department recently reiterated that it has no intention to remove the teaching of grammar from the school syllabus. The separate assessment of grammar in the exam will be removed though.

This announcement came in the midst of an outcry from the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), stating that the scrapping of grammar teaching in schools was “problematic” because it would negatively affect literacy, particularly among second language students.

Spokesman for the Department of Basic Education, Graham Whittle said this change is part of an international trend to move away from teaching grammar as a “stand alone”, towards the integration of grammar into the writing and reading components would allow grammar to be taught “in context”.

Naptosa criticized this decision and felt to relegate grammar in this way would neglect two factors:

  • Literacy levels of learners in the formal schooling system have been shown [repeatedly] to be particularly poor.
  • For the majority of learners in South Africa, the language of learning and teaching is English, which in most cases is their second, or even third, language.”

The development of competence in grammar was therefor crucial for education across all other subjects.

To read the original article in the Mail and Guardian Online Click Here!

Budgeting for improved education in South Africa

Spending on South African education will receive a high priority this year, with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan allocating more than R189-billion to the sector for 2011/12. This is up by 9.7 percent over 2010/11.

During his Budget speech to Parliament in Cape Town recently Minister Gordhan also announced an allocation of R8.3-billion to the Department of Basic Education for school infrastructure, while R1-billion goes to the funza lushaka teacher bursaries and bursaries for top students in natural science.

This allocation will enable the Basic Education Department to replace about 3 627 informal and unsafe school structures, especially in the Eastern Cape to address the lack of proper classrooms there.

More than R75-million would go towards strengthening oversight, monitoring and evaluation. This is for the national assessments in literacy and numeracy for all grades 3, 6 and 9 pupils, that will be conducted in all schools this year. More than 6.6-million learners have been budgeted for.

Improving South African education is high among the government’s priorities, with President Jacob Zuma earlier this month pushing the concept of “the three Ts” – teachers, textbooks and time – for basic education in the country.

To read the original article go to Chris Bathembu’s go to SouthAfrica.info by Clicking Here!

SA’s Department of Basic Education reveals its ICT plans

South Africa’s Department of Basic Education is aiming to utilise technology as a developmental tool for teacher education as well as integrating it into the school curriculum, Mr Enver Surty, Deputy Minister of Basic Education said recently at a gala dinner in Cape Town, at the Microsoft Partners in Learning Worldwide Innovative Education Forum Awards.

Surty said that an inter-ministerial committee had met at the end of October to sign an agreement that binds the Minister of Basic Education, The Deputy Minister of Basic Education, MECs and the ministers of other departments in the achievement of certain goals. While there was a commitment to the provision of quality basic education, Information Communication Technology (ICT) was highlighted.

The commitment is that by 2015 every learner who has passed grade 3 will have had exposure to ICT.

Surty also referred to the undersea cables linking Africa to the world, and vice versa, and said “technology has been taken to the heart of Africa…”

Currently South Africa has about 26 000 schools, of which only 3  in 10 have access to technology and only 1 in 10 schools has access to the Internet, mainly through dial up connections. The government is trying to roll out the Teacher Laptop Initiative which provides teachers with a R130 subsidy per month towards the purchase of a laptop, but the use of technology in teaching methodology is yet to be formally incorporated into the teacher training curriculum.

Surty then referred to the Microsoft Partners in Learning Programme, through which the Department of Basic Education has received R93 million in free software via a national schools’ agreement. More than 25 000 teachers have been trained using the programme’s Teacher Training curriculum and the aim is to foster the development of 21st century skills among learners.

To read the original article by Primarashni Gower on Mail and Guardian Online Click Here!