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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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Plans for workbooks in South African schools criticised

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s plan to spend R750m on workbooks for all primary school pupils in public schools was called into question recently by research that shows a workbook makes no more difference to educational performance than a textbook. The idea of giving children workbooks was first put forward by Ms Motshekga at the end of last year when she listed several changes to the school curriculum, but an initial promise to make workbooks available for the start of this school year was withdrawn when a R522m tender for 45-million pupil workbooks and parent guidelines for monitoring homework was recalled due to shoddy work.

“It is not workbooks that make the difference … (research shows) it is the presence of books that does,” JET Education Services senior researcher Nick Taylor said recently at a Pretoria workshop on what could be done to strengthen education in South Africa.

To read more go to Sue Blaine’s article “South Africa: research challenges plan to supply workbooks” in Business Day on allAfrica.com by Clicking Here!

OR read Alison Moody’s article “SOUTH AFRICA: Row over research into school books”  in University World News Africa Edition by Clicking 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.