Quality of Education and Challenges thereto: Consideration of Submissions received during Public Hearings Day 3

Basic Education

23 August 2010
Chairperson: Ms F Chohan (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee continued going through written submissions sent to it during the public hearings.

Many of the issues that came out of the submission had already been discussed by the Committee as they had been repeated in a number of submissions.

Members felt that as the Committee held hearings it needed to make the public understand the rationale behind the hearings. There were issues raised in the submissions that were not relevant, and Members were not sure if the submissions were justifiable or based on substantial facts.

Submission 31 asked for religion to be brought back into schools. Training programmes needed to be developed for teachers. There should be smaller pupil ratio. Education needed fair and firm management. Education should have been specialised according to pupil needs. The Committee said these points had already been discussed.
 
Submission 32 said there was no pressure from the Department to introduce teacher training programmes. Classes’ sizes needed to be reduced. There was a lack of foresight from the Department. It was recommended that pressure be placed on authorities to introduce training programmes and bring down class sizes.

Submission 33 had a host of suggestions to improve the quality and access to education. It said that South African education was down in the dumps. Solutions were offered in respect of access to education, stationary, inspectors, morals and values. Members said access to education was important. Subsidiaries for needy learners were an issue but that it went beyond fees. There were many children who were not going to school because of poverty. Fees was the tip of the iceberg, there also needed to be money for uniforms, stationary and transport, which many families did not have, so it did not matter if they did not have to pay school fees because there were other expenses. This was a huge problem in the education system, unfortunately the solutions remained illusive.

Members pointed out that in order to exempt a student from disadvantaged backgrounds from paying school fees a letter needed to be sent to the school from the parents explaining their home situation. However, not all children were living with their parents some of them had been dumped with grandparents or other family members. Members suggested that the Committee try rephrasing some of the laws.

Submissions 34, 35 and 36 were all manuals or books submitted by people. This was information that had to be sent to the Department so that it could be showcased to teachers and schools.

Submission 38 also referred to the issue of learners denied access to school because they could not pay school fees. There was also the inappropriate use of child grants which were being used to pay school fees. Uniforms should be the same for everyone, grey or black pants, white shirt and black shoes. Schools should encourage children to have good values. The submission also spoke about discipline in schools.

Submission 39 said that there was no proper teaching training courses, and also asked that religion be brought back into schools.

Submission 40 said that there was a lack of leadership in schools. Submission 42 said Outcome Based Education was a disaster. Training colleges were not producing enough Maths and Science teachers. Poor quality teachers got away with murder. He recommended that the poor quality teachers be flushed out of the system and skills development programmes were started for junior grades.

Submission 42, 43 and 44 dealt with morality in schools.

Many submissions had asked for religion to be introduced back in schools. Many of them also felt that Outcome Based Education was a problem.

The Committee had invited schools to attend the public hearings to give advice and on their recipe for success because they were schools which had 100 percent pass rate for matric. School said that it went the extra mile, when a child was absent the school would phone the child’s parents to find out what was wrong. Extra classes were made available for students the teachers had identified as being at a risk of failing. The teachers also had subject meetings.

Members thought this was a good idea and recommended that these tools be implemented in all schools around the country.

A draft of the report had already been given to Members, and they were asked them to make notes of anything that needed to be added. The Chairperson asked Members to put a note by submission 52 that desktop research needed to be done on the number of special schools in each province. It was going to become a serious issue in the future. Schools needed to cater for children with physical disabilities but children with cognitive needs needed to go to a special school. The Committee did not know how many special schools the country had.
This was to do with inclusive education.

Submission 61 was sent in by the Grahamstown Amasango Career School. The school gave a detailed submission addressing the educational needs of street children and other severely socially marginalised learners who had severe psycho-social problems.

The Committee said the school was invited to the public hearings because its submission was so heart warming and it was dealing with access to education. This school helped children get off the streets, and good off drugs and this was a big achievement. It was important to make mention of the plight of street children. It was about addressing a social need which had become prominent. These children were not documented as they did not have proper identification documents.

Meeting report

Written submissions to the Committee on the quality and challenges of education and recommendations
The Chairperson started with submission 31. The submission was sent in by Ms F Klerck (BAS.EDU 31). The submission asked for religion to be brought back into schools. Training programmes needed to be developed for teachers. There should be smaller pupil ratio. Education needed fair and firm management. Education should have been specialised according to pupil needs.

The Chairperson said these points had already been discussed by the Committee. She moved onto submission 32. The submission was sent in by Ms Diana Brown (BAS.EDU 32). Ms Brown said there was no pressure from the Department to introduce teacher training programmes. Classes’ sizes needed to be reduced. There was a lack of foresight from the Department. Ms Brown recommended that pressure be placed on authorities to introduce training programmes and bring down class sizes.

Submission 33 was sent in by Ms Marry-Ann Appana (BAS.EDU 33). Ms Appana had a host of suggestions to improve the quality and access to education. She said that South African education was down in the dumps. Ms Appana offered to solutions in respect of access to education, stationary, inspectors, morals and values.

The Chairperson said access to education was important. Subsidiaries for needy learners were an issue but that it went beyond fees. There were many children who were not going to school because of poverty. Fees was the tip of the iceberg, there also needed to be money for uniforms, stationary and transport, which many families did not have, so it did not matter if they did not have to pay school fees because there were other expenses. This was a huge problem in the education system, unfortunately the solutions remained illusive.

Ms A Mda (COPE) pointed out that in order to exempt a student from disadvantaged backgrounds from paying school fees a letter needed to be sent to the school from the parents explaining their home situation. However, not all children were living with their parents some of them had been dumped with grandparents or other family members. Ms Mda suggested that the Committee try rephrasing some of the laws.

The Chairperson asked Mr Dennis Bandi, Content Advisor: Parliament, to get a copy of the laws for the Committee. She also pointed out that grandparents and guardians also had the right to write letters on behalf of the child.

Ms Mda agreed but said that some mothers left their children with other family members without leaving the proper documentation with them which was a problem.

Ms A Mashishi (ANC) said that school inspectors seemed to have forgotten their responsibilities.

The Chairperson asked if the education department even had inspectors. She understood that they were called district circuit managers, as far as she knew inspectors were different. An inspector sat in a classroom and assessed a teacher.

Mr Bandi said submission 34 was sent in by Mr Pieter Pelser (BAS.EDU 34). Mr Pelser had written a book called ‘The Hoax of Darwinism and the African Eve). Mr Pelser said the Education Department had thrown the baby out with the bath water. There was no morality or awareness that people were accountable to God.

The Chairperson said the issue of religion had already been discussed by the Committee.

Mr Bandi said submission 35 was sent in by D A Liebenberg (BAS.EDU 35). Liebenberg had written a manual to improve the standard of education and management in schools. Mr Bandi said this was another case for showcasing new techniques by the Department. Submission 36 was sent in by Dr J J Swartz (BAS.EDU 36) was also a case for showcasing. Submission 37 was sent in by Mr Adam Kepkey. Mr Kepkey wrote that the curriculum was too packed. There needed to be more workshops and reduction of class sizes. There needed to be more training to management of schools and parents needed to be involved.

The Chairperson said she thought parents were already involved.

Mr Bandi said submission 38 was sent in by Mr Colvin Snell (BAS.EDU 38). His submission also referred to the issue of learners denied access to school because they could not pay school fees. There was also the inappropriate use of child grants which were being used to pay school fees. Uniforms should be the same for everyone, grey or black pants, white shirt and black shoes. Schools should encourage children to have good values. The submission also spoke about discipline in schools.

The Chairperson said the Committee had briefly discussed discipline at the previous meeting. The other issue raised, which was a difficult one, was about school fees. South Africa already had a parallel system, and even if a child was in a fee paying school they could still be exempt from paying school fees.

Ms Mashishi said she supported the statement.

Mr Bandi said submission 39 was sent in by Ms Dawn Glendining (BAS.EDU 39). Ms Glendining wrote that there was no proper teaching training courses, and also asked that religion be brought back into schools.

The Chairperson said that there were already proper training courses for teachers especially for new entrants into the profession.

Mr Bandi said submission 40 was sent in by Ms Trudé Nell (BAS.EDU 40). Ms Nell wrote that there was a lack of leadership in schools. Submission 42 was sent in by Dr Chris Herold (BAS.EDU 42). Dr Herold said Outcome Based Education (OBE) was a disaster. Training colleges were not producing enough Maths and Science teachers. Poor quality teachers got away with murder. He recommended that the poor quality teachers be flushed out of the system and skills development programmes were started for junior grades.

Ms Mda said Dr Herold should have been happy that the Minister had introduced a new curriculum. In terms of poor quality teachers there was a programme on SABC called Cutting Edge that had visited a school in Umtata were teachers were only arriving at work at 11:00am, because they just did not care. The school governing body had reported these teachers to the Department in April 2008 and in October 2009 the Department still had not done anything about the problem. By not doing anything about it the Department had said it condoned the teachers’ behaviour. Teachers needed to be disciplined.

The Chairperson said that the Department did not have a legal accountability mechanism or disciplinary code. There needed to be a standard that all teachers adhered to and these had to be obsolete. In fairness to the Department this behaviour had become the culture in some schools and there was not even a registry signed by teachers at the school. It would be difficult to do disciplinary hearings with all the teachers otherwise who would be left to teach. Discipline of teachers in certain areas of the country was a problem, on other hand there were passionate, hard working teachers as well.

Mr J Lorimer (DA) said he agreed with the Chairperson. However, there were accountability mechanisms in place but clearly it was not working. He recommended that research be done to figure out why it was not working.

The Chairperson said the Committee needed to start by doing desktop research of each province, to see what was happening and were the problem areas were. The Chairperson also said that the Committee should recommend that a forum of chairpersons on education be formed to draw up a disciplinary code.

Mr Bandi said submission 42, 43 and submission 44 dealt with morality in schools. Submission 42 which was sent in by Ms J Pillai (BAS.EDU 42) said children and teachers had lost their moral compass. Teachers had to be exemplary.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) said that she understood the submission by saying teachers had lost their moral compass but was this person qualified to make such an allegation as it was a serious one. Ms Mushwana pointed out that not everyone was a Christian and everyone had the freedom to make that choice.

Mr Bandi said submission 43 was sent in by Ms Janine (BAS.EDU 43), who said there was no value in schools. Submission 44 was sent in by Mr Gert, who said the old education system was not bad.

Ms Mushwana said people needed to have a paradigm shift, as they could not believe that the old school system was good and the new school system was bad. The new system had improved on the old system.

Ms Mda said that as the Committee held hearings it needed to make the public understand the rationale behind the hearings. There were issues raised in the submissions that were not relevant, and she was not sure if the submissions were justifiable or based on substantial facts.

Mr Bandi said submission 45 was sent in by Mr Malcolm Matthew (BAS.EDU 45).Mr Matthew said class numbers were too high, OBE ill prepared children, learners lacked respect, prayer needed to be included in school and schools needed to stop teaching evolution.

The Chairperson said submission 46 had already been dealt with. Submission 47 was sent in by Mr Senzo Ngcobo (BAS.EDU 47) and said there was a shortage of accounting teachers in South Africa. Mr Ngcobo was ready to divert his diploma in Accounting into Teaching and needed advice.

Ms Mushwana said that maybe the Committee could advise MR Ngcobo could correspond with Vista as he could do it through correspondence.

The Chairperson asked Ms Mushwana if she would call Mr Ngcobo and advise him and what he could do. The Chairperson moved onto submission 48 which she said had already been dealt with.  

The Committee moved onto book three of the submissions.

Mr Bandi said submission 50 was sent in by Höerskool Pretoria-Wes (BAS.EDU 50). The school made some recommendations. Strict measures of discipline needed to be in place at schools. There needed to be well structured after school programmes to cover prescribed syllabi. Motivate staff and involve all stakeholders. Take part in teacher development at school. Take part in district and cluster forums. Informed teachers were confident. There needed to be internal staff development done by experienced teachers.

The Chairperson said that she had invited Höerskool Pretoria-Wes to attend the public hearings to give advice and its recipe for success because they were one of the schools which had 100 percent pass rate for matric. The school said that it went the extra mile, when a child was absent the school would phone the child’s parents to find out what was wrong. Extra classes were made available for students the teachers had identified as being at a risk of failing. The teachers also had subject meetings. The Chairperson said she had asked the Committee secretary to call the school and to find out what was meant by subject meetings. The principal of the school said that it was an in-house tool used by the school. The Chairperson recommended that maybe all schools needed to start using these tool of extra classes and subject meetings as well.

Mr Lorimer said that he thought it was a great idea. However it was a problem getting to teachers to even attend a meeting after classes never mind getting them to give extra classes.

Ms Mashishi said she supported the idea and knew it worked because it was used at a school she worked at in Limpopo.

Ms Mushwana said she was from the same area as Ms Mashishi and she had also used those tools in school before. Subject or cluster meetings were supposed to be happening in every school, but it needed to be intensified. Teachers needed to have passion and commitment.

The Chairperson said that there needed to be a paragraph on passion and commitment of teachers in the Committee’s report as it was the key to transformation.

Mr Bandi said submission 51 was sent in by Mr Taylor Jodie from Transition Software (BAS.EDU 51). Mr Jodie had developed a web-based software programme that could address the problems in schools. The programme was piloted at Scottsville High School in the Metro East District.  Submission 52 was sent in by Ms Hanlie Coetzee (BAS.EDU 52). Ms Coetzee wrote that there was a need for learners with special needs to have assistance when going to school. Some teachers were not well trained to handle such learners. Ms Coetzee recommended that special classes be brought back.

The Chairperson said that a draft of the report had already been given to Members, and she asked them to make notes of anything that needed to be added. The Chairperson asked Members to put a note by submission 52 that desktop research needed to be done on the number of special schools in each province. It was going to become a serious issue in the future. Schools needed to cater for children with physical disabilities but children with cognitive needs needed to go to a special school. The Committee did not know how many special schools the country had.

Ms Mushwana asked the Committee to go back to the input on inclusive education and said that it should be extended to all schools. The Minister said that the Department was moving towards this. It was discriminative to put children with problems in a different school and schools needed to look at having separate special classes for these children. This would be a move towards inclusive education.

Mr Bandi said submission 53 was sent in by Mr Ronald Pillay (BAS.EDU 53). Mr Pillay wrote that OBE did not equip learners with relevant skills, knowledge and ability. Students were lazy. Students in Grade 12 were less equipped for university challenges.

The Chairperson said that Mr Pillay was a concerned citizen who had a sister in Matric. The issue with OBE had already been discussed by the Committee and was being reviewed.

Mr Bandi said submission 54 was sent in by Ms Charmaine Smith from Infundo Consulting (BAS.EDU 54). This submission was a profile of the consulting firm. Submission 55 was sent in by Theocentric Christian Education CC (BAS.EDU 55). Theocentric Christian Education CC said “Look and Say” teaching methods for reading needed to be avoided. Maths teaching should be combined with memory exercises or drill method not calculator use. There needed to be privatized teacher training. Parents should have more say in running of schools. Religious values needed to be taught at school. Home schooling needed to be encouraged to those who could do it. 

Mr Bandi said submission 56 was sent in by Mr Niko Mgiba (BAS.EDU 56). Mr Mgiba wrote that children needed to be taught to be independent thinkers. The Curriculum should have been presented as topics not a collection of facts. Foundation phase should focus on mastery skills. Intermediate phase should introduce topics.

The Chairperson said the most observable approach was on what people needed to know and not on how they were learning. It was a strange anomaly.

Mr Bandi said submission 57 by Ms Hajane Shadrack (BAS.EDU 57) was heard in the oral public hearings. Submission 58 sent in by Dr Malcolm Venter (BAS.EDU 58) was about the curriculum and class size.

The Chairperson said these issues had already been discussed.

Mr Bandi said submission 59 was sent in by Mr T Krige (BAS.EDU 59). Mr Krige wrote that schools should exist for the benefit of learners only. The prime focus should be on teachers. Teachers needed to be trained properly. Teacher performance needed to be demanded. Curriculum content, class size, exam systems etc. were important but would not produce the desired results without satisfactory body of teachers. Mr Bandi said submission 60 was sent in by Rynfield Primary School (BAS.EDU 60). The schools wrote that religious education should be brought back into the system. Life skills and moral education needed to be reinforced in the curriculum.

The Chairperson pointed out that there were no Christian schools in the public system just public schools.

Mr Bandi said submission 61 was sent in by the Grahamstown Amasango Career School (BAS.EDU 61). The school gave a detailed submission addressing the educational needs of street children and other severely socially marginalised learners who had severe psycho-social problems.

The Chairperson said the school was invited to the public hearings because its submission was so heart warming and it was dealing with access to education. This school helped children get off the streets, and good off drugs and this was a big achievement. It was important to make mention of the plight of street children. It was about addressing a social need which had become prominent. These children were not documented as they did not have proper identification documents.

Mr Bandi said submission 63 was sent in by Mr Tony Khatle (BAS.EDU 63). Mr Khatle requested that current and ex-teachers of Maths and Science volunteer time in helping schools in their area. There was an alarming failure rate and curriculum content needed overhauling.

Mr Bandi said submission 64 was sent in by Mr Bongani Sopam from Wynberg Boys High School (BAS.EDU 64). Mr Sopam wrote that there needed to be a review of processes in certain areas in education e.g. appointment of school managers or principals. There were no quality principals; there was a lack of leadership. There was also manipulation in the process of appointing principals.

The Chairperson said that Mr Sopam was saying there was a flaw in that enormous power was given to School Governing Bodies (SGB) when appointing principals. However, SGB went through applicants and then nominated three people that the Department would then look at and appoint someone.

Mr Lorimer said that it was problematic but there was no solution. The SGB should be given a say but the problem was money was sometimes given to members of the SGB to make sure that certain people got on the short list.

The Chairperson said that surely the Department had had a say if it did not think any of the applicants were right.

Ms Mashishi said there were criteria but it was up to the Department to choice the school could just recommend.

The Chairperson said the Committee needed to find out what the criteria was.

Mr Bandi said submission 65 was sent in by M F Green from Shayandima School of Tomorrow (BAS.EDU 65). Green wrote that the effects of liberal curriculum material had no absolutes. Teacher development was important but took teachers away from their classrooms. Class sizes needed to be reduced. Managerial capacity at schools was lacking. There was increase in incidents of immoral behaviour between teachers and pupils, corruption and fraud from teachers was also an issue.

The Chairperson asked if people who were training to become teachers still went to a school to get practical experience.

Ms Mashishi said she had seen this practice was still happening.

Mr Bandi said submission 66 was sent in by Unknown (BAS.EDU 66). The submission said that the person had witnessed a moral decline. The class sizes were too big. Teachers had little motivation to teach and absenteeism was the norm. Accountability between schools and regional education offices needed to be rethought.

Ms Mda said the issue of morality kept coming up in the submissions and the Committee could not ignore it. There were students in schools who were pregnant with teachers’ babies, it was this immoral behaviour of teachers and learners that was giving people the impression that morals were lacking.

The Chairperson said the issue of morality had been dealt with under other people’s submissions.

Meeting was adjourned.




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