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Education will be the key to the SKA rollout

In a recent article by Duncan Alfreds, he stressed the critical importance of education standards to the rollout of science programmes, as well as the need to accelerate the development of technical skills that will be needed for South Africa to deliver its share of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope to be erected in the Northern Cape Province.  

Currently the South African education sector does not deliver graduates with the critical skills to help in the rollout of the project

70.2 % of students out of a total of 496 090 passed matric in 2011, and of these only 24.3 % obtained a university entrance.

Prof Nithaya Chetty, Group Executive of Astronomy at the National Research Foundation (NRF), and researcher at the University of Pretoria, stressed in an interview with News24 that although universities are seeing an increase in number of applications their abilities are below par, especially mathematical skills, which will be essential if the country wants to reach  its targets. He feels there should be accelerated programmes to teach technical skills to ensure that there are support staff in place to support engineers in projects like the SKA.

To read more go to Duncan Alfreds’ article on News 24 by Clicking Here!

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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!

SA government eyeing free tuition to boost skills shortages

In a recent cabinet lekgotla the South African government agreed on a number of resolutions to address skills shortages. The lekgotla noted the mismatch between the supply and demand of skills for specific educational categories in the light of the unemployment rate that is expanding.

Deputy Basic Education Minister Enver Surty gave feedback from the lekgotla. He stressed that the labour market is plagued by skills shortages that constrains the country’s economic growth potential. Keeping this in mind the lekotla resolved to take action on various key matters including:

  • examining the possibility of covering the full cost of study for (poor) students in scarce skills areas in all years of study; 
  • guarding against downgrading the social science programme provision;
  • supporting post-graduate students through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to develop a new generation of academics in addition to National Research Foundation initiatives;
  • intensifying efforts to promote research and development in higher education institutions;
  • seeing to it that students that have completed their studies pay back their loans so that other students can also be supported;
  • giving urgent attention to the problem of accommodation in the higher education system (only 18.5 % of students are accommodated in university residences)
  • ensuring that all infrastructure programmes are linked to skills training and workplace experiential learning;
  • strengthening and repositioning Public Service Sector Seta (PSeta) to play a more effective role in skills training for public service
  • seeing to it that all government departments pay skills levies, as required by law;
  • expanding the intake of interns into the public service, municipalities and state-owned enterprises; and
  • utilising training within the public service as largest single employer in the country.

This posting was based on a Sapa article published on Fin24 on 23 august. To read the original Sapa article Click Here!

South Africa sitting on a “social time bomb”

South Africa is sitting on a “social time bomb” with more than 3 million youths between the ages of 18 and 24 who don’t have jobs and don’t receive any education or training.  A recent report by the Centre for Higher Education and Transformation (CHET) titled  “Responding to the educational needs of post-school youth” indicates that this is not only an education problem , but part of a “socio-economic disaster”.

In 2007, 2.8 million of the approximately 6.7 million youths between 18 and 24 had no jobs or training. Only 35.3% of them attended educational institutions.

To read more go to Alet Rademeyer’s article on News 24 by Clicking Here!

To read the report Click Here!

Pan-African University to launch in February 2010

The Pan-African University, envisaged as a continental network of institutions training postgraduate students and promoting research, is set to open its doors in February 2010.  The Pan African University (PAU), supported by the African Union, will not construct a new higher education infrastructure – at least not for now – but will use existing universities as satellites across the continent to train masters and PhD students. It will eventually comprise a main campus linked to a network of five regional centres, chosen for their academic and research strength and the relevance of their work to Africa’s needs. The centres will be located in North, West, East, Central and Southern Africa. To read the rest of Munyaradzi Makoni’s article on University World News Click 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!