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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!

South Africa loses increasing numbers of teachers via emigration

In a recent presentation titled “South African teacher migration: an issue of political debate“, Rian de Villiers from the Faculty of Education at the University of Pretoria indicated that South Africa loses approximately 4000 teachers each year to emigration. This means that new teachers will have to be aggresively recruited and produced to curb the decline in numbers of teachers.

De Villiers showed that teachers loss in South Africa was due to attrition, career change and massive recruitment by foreign countries.

Factors which seem to be pushing teachers out of SA were:

  • Career dissatisfaction
  • Low salaries
  • Unemployment

Factors attracting teachers to other countries include:

  • Higher salaries
  • Professional development
  • Travel opportunities
  • Friends and family overseas
  • Recruitment agency persuasion.

Possible solutions given by De Villiers include:

  • Recruiting retired and unemployed subject experts
  • Having a compulsory one-year internship after graduation
  • Making more bursary schemes available for prospective student teachers
  • Monitoring teacher recruitment agencies closely
  • Introducing international relocation grants
  • Eliminating negative perceptions about the teaching profession
  • Improving teachers’ work conditions

To read more:

Go to Michelle Jones’ article in the Star Newspaper by Clicking Here!   

Go to Michelle Jones and Leanne Jansen’s article in The Mercury by Clicking Here! 

To access Rian De Villiers’ presentation Click Here!

SA Basic Education Department to follow a more ‘scripted approach’ to teacher development

The South African Department of Basic Education has decided to follow a more “scripted approach” to the development of teachers, Deputy basic Education Minister Enver Surty announced recently. The first annual national assessments (ANA) have provided the department with important information to assist in identifying areas where urgent attention was needed to improve learner’s success levels.

The scripted appoach according to Surty will include:

  • training and support to teachers to help them manage and use efficient methods to teach specific content areas which were identified in the assessments as areas that are particularly challenging to learners. Critical to the success of this new approach will be more targeted, subject specific teacher education and development that will improve teacher content knowledge;
  • strengthening the campaign to attract young people to the teaching profession through the Funza Lushaka Bursary programme;
  • develop performance management contracts with clear performance targets with principals and deputy principals;
  • strengthening the appointment procedures for school principals;
  • strengthening district support for schools

Surty also shared the following resolutions on basic education from the recent government lekgotla:

  • acceleration of the provision of universal basic services such as the eradication of infrastructure backlogs, provision of sporting facilities, and national planning and procurement for provision of infrastructure, textbooks and stationary;
  • improving, monitoring, support and accountability in the schooling system, including mechanisms for improved teacher accountability , and involvement in school improvement activities. 

This posting was based on a Sapa article published on News24 on 23 August 2011.

To read the original Sapa article Click Here!

The literacy levels of primary schools teachers under the spotlight

The competency of primary school teachers recently came under the spotlight, just before the first national assessments of numeracy and literacy levels of primary school pupils.

2008 figures have shown that the majority of grades 3 and 6 pupils in South Africa’s Gauteng province could not read or write at the appropriate level, representing a national figure. Some believe that teachers are to blame, but we need to understand the literacy levels of South African teachers, according to education analyst Sarah Gravett. “A few years ago there was some tests done where teachers wrote grade 6 tests on literacy and many failed or struggled with those tests”

To read more go to the original article on the SABC News site by Clicking Here!

South Africa lost 26000 teachers in 3 years

South Africa lost a staggering 26000 teachers in the three years from 2005 to 2008, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga recently revealed.

The revelation comes against a background of serious fears that the country cannot train teachers fast enough to meet current demand, as teachers either head for greener pastures, retire or die of old age.

To read more go to Wyndham Hartley’s Business Day article on allAfrica.com by Clicking Here!

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!

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!