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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!

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A huge increase in new education students at SA universities

For the first time in years South African universities are experiencing a marked increase in the number of students wanting to become teachers.

Universities showing a marked increase in student numbers from last year included the University of Pretoria from 789 to 1224; the University of KwaZulu-Natal from 548 to 701; Wits University from 400 to 520; the University of Johannesburg from 213 to 330 and Stellenbosch University from 571 to 637; with the University of the Free State taking in an extra 28 from 410 last year.

To read more go to the Sunday Times article by Clicking Here!

South African teachers not adequately equipped to teach maths

A coalition of Western Cape-based mathematics teachers (Concerned Maths Educators) is appealing to the National Department of Education to suspend the format of the mathematics curriculum for grade 10 to 12 learners, claiming educators are not adequately equipped to teach it, according to an article in the Mail & Guardian Online newspaper.

To read the article Click Here!

Pandor dispels teaching myths

News24 reports:

Various myths and misrepresentations exist in the South African education system, including that teachers and textbooks “don’t matter”, said Education Minister Naledi Pandor on Tuesday. Speaking at an SA Curriculum and Teacher Support (Sacats) conference in Johannesburg, she told delegates this had caused confusion and dismay at schools.  

“Recent evidence suggests that some of our learning challenges emanate from various myths and misrepresentations… The first myth is that teachers don’t matter,” she said in a speech prepared for delivery at the conference.

“The jargon of the curriculum – self-discovery, knowledge generation and so on – has been presented as excluding teachers. This is an unintended consequence.  

Memorising

“Teachers are the key to successful learning. Facts and knowledge are important and learners need support from competent and knowledgeable learners. We need to devise interventions that restore the confidence of teachers,” Pandor said.  

A second myth was that teachers should not teach or guide, but allow “discovery”.  

This had led to teachers being “compelled” to teach in groups, to avoid the use of the blackboard, and to resist intervening even when pupils could not cope.  

Pandor said the third myth was that pupils shouldn’t be taught to memorise. Teachers were told that memory is antithetical to the new approach.  

Memorising has been confused with regurgitating, and this confusion has caused huge challenges, she said.  

A fourth myth was that textbooks did not matter. This had eroded the importance of textbooks and other curriculum materials. “Curriculum advisers have to take a leading role in reversing these myths,” Pandor said.

Web 2.0 for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

The Obervatory on Borderless Higher Education Published an interesting report in August 2007 on “Web 2.0. for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education”. This report authored by Tom Franklin founder of Franklin Consulting, an Education Technology Consultancy and Mark Van Harmelen an independent ICT consultant who works in education and technology enhanced learning at the University of Manchester’s School of Computer Science, discusses the uses of Web 2.0 in higher education and examines the practices at five institutions currently implementing Web 2.0: the UK Universities of Brighton, Leeds, Warwick, and Edinburgh, and the University of Klagenfurt in Austria. It then considers ways in which Web 2.0 impacts institutional policy and strategy. In the final section it then analyses issues related to Web 2.0 in learning, teaching and assessment. This report may be used to help formulate policy and guidelines for Web 2.0 use in universities. Although it identifies some of the risks associated with Web 2.0 implementation, including intellectual property and security issues, and because the application of Web 2.0 in higher education is still in an early stage it concludes by recommending that institutions impose only minimal and necessary regulations in order to avoid constraining experimentation with Web 2.0 technologies and allied pedagogies. The report is available to subscribers (UP does subscribe) on the Obervatory on Borderless Higher Education’s web site at  http://www.obhe.ac.uk/products/reports/