Quality of and access to education: further deliberations on public submissions

Basic Education

14 September 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. Members concentrated on Book 5. Some of the issues raised in the submissions had already been discussed by the Committee, as they dealt with the same subject matter in other submissions. In these cases, the Committee noted that the points had already been discussed, and would be noted in the Committee report, so there was not a need to discuss them in detail.

Isandlwana Technical High School had asked for better distribution of resources so that all schools were treated fairly and standards were not compromised, pre-term content discussion sessions under the supervision of subject advisors, and a reward or incentive system based on outputs or results. The submission had also noted that there were no ramps for people with disabilities.

The Committee noted that schools which were performing well should be given incentives and that pre-term content discussion sessions under the supervision of subject advisors was a good recommendation. The Committee would review a document from the Ford Foundation, which had recommended a system for subject advisors. The Committee considered the issue of the Quintile system used in schools.

Florida School for Skills had said that the role of educators should be clarified, called for the Department to design and distribute lesson plans, teaching aids, worksheets and assessment tasks, the provision of incentives for skills development for educators and a need for a standardised curriculum, syllabus and teaching materials.

The Committee noted that these were valid issues and that the Department was dealing with them. The Committee further noted that there was a lack of trained social workers in South Africa, which made it difficult to have a social worker in each school.

Mr A Makhubedu’s submission had raised the issues of under-equipped teachers being expected to teach new subjects or learning areas in the curriculum, class size and managerial capacity.

The Committee agreed that new learning areas might not be introduced unless proper induction and training for educators was offered. The issue of ratio and managerial capacity had already been dealt with in previous submissions.

Mr Ross Walters’ submission had raised the issues of the failure to accommodate children with special needs in mainstream schools.  Mr Walters had also submitted that inclusive education was not meeting the needs of children with autism, cerebral palsy, and other disorders. He had also drawn attention to the lack of high schools for children with special needs.

The Committee agreed that this was unacceptable and suggested an oversight visit to review the situation.

The Mental Health and Poverty Project, University of Cape Town, had  raised the issue of the relationship of mental health and education, how that could lead to educational failure, poor performance and premature school leaving and how high levels of education could have a positive impact on mental health through improving social status.

The Committee had invited the Project to make an oral submission.

Mr Hendrick Hahn from the North West University had raised the issue of the importance of information technology as a school subject.

Committee members were not equipped to explain what Mr Hahn had meant and therefore highlighted this issue in the final Committee Report.

Mr A M Suliman had raised the issue of the Physical Science curriculum being too challenging, and the differences and discrepancies in the percentage ratios in the General Education and Training Phase and the Further Education and Training Phase.

The Committee noted that a review of the Physical Sciences curriculum had been proposed as well as a review of the differences and discrepancies in the percentage ratio for assessment.

Mrs Lynch had raised the issues of the absence of health professionals in schools, the under funding of school libraries and the disadvantages faced by learners who were not first language English speakers. The Committee noted that some of the issues had been addressed previously.

The Committee further agreed to support the recommendation of giving incentives to educators to learn an indigenous African language.

South African Media (University of Free State) had raised the issue of the poor standard of literacy due to the inaccessibility to libraries in public schools.

South African Media (University of Free State) had been invited to make an oral submission.

Mr Richard Northmole had proposed a more equitable adjustment of imbalances in administration and the improvement of real results in all subjects as well as the rapid improvement of teacher knowledge, skills, ability and understanding in all subjects at all schools.

The Committee noted that these issues had been discussed previously.

Ms M M Moremi, Tshepang Kopano Academy, had asked for information regarding how her company could become involved with programmes offered by the Department.

The Committee Secretary was asked to call Ms Moremi to provide her with the necessary information.

Mr Anthony Lister, Sea Point High School, had raised various issues regarding criticism of teachers, progression of learners to the next grade, the lack of discipline, work ethic and responsibility in learners.

The Committee noted that these issues had been discussed previously.

Stutterheim High School had raised challenges, such as, infrastructure backlog, inaccessibility of schools in rural areas, distribution of materials and the sometimes bad influence of the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union.

The Committee noted that the issues regarding curriculum and textbooks would be included in the final Committee Report.

Fish Hoek Primary School had raised the issues of the lack of focus on basic skills of the Grade 4 Mathematics Curriculum and low subject content knowledge on the part of educators.
The Committee noted that the issues regarding Curriculum and textbooks would be included in the final Committee Report. Members were in favour of providing rewards for professional development.

Ms Cheryl J Charles, Mind Lab, had raised the issues of cognitive education forming part of the curriculum, and the lack of material or tools provided to educators to teach learners their critical and creative thinking skills.

Ms Charles had been invited to make an oral submission.

Meeting report

Quality of and access to education: Further deliberations on public submissions
The Chairperson indicated that the Committee would continue to deliberate on the points raised before the Committee in response to the call for public submissions on the quality and access to education.

She noted that the Committee would concentrate on Book 5 and that the first submission on the agenda was Submission 114 from Isandlwana Technical High School (BAS.EDU 114). This submission had asked for better distribution of resources so that all schools were treated fairly and that the standards should not be compromised, pre-term content discussion sessions under the supervision of subject advisors, and a reward or incentive system based on outputs or results. The submission had also noted that there were no ramps for people with disabilities.

The Chairperson said that she agreed that the schools which were performing well should be given incentives. She asked Members for their input with regard to the promotion of teachers and the pre-term content discussions.

Ms A Mashishi (ANC) said that she supported the recommendation made for pre-term content discussion sessions under the supervision of subject advisors.

The Chairperson asked what subject advisors were expected to do.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) explained that the subject advisors were expected to monitor and advise teachers as well as assist them with any difficulties they might be experiencing during teaching. She said that the challenge faced by subject advisors was that they were located in circuits, but controlled by districts. She further noted that the circuits had been understaffed until last year and that she was not sure whether the vacancies had been filled.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had received a submission from the Ford Foundation in which it highlighted a system that was used in the Western Cape. She asked Miss Mushwana to have a look at the document and to then explain it to her at the next meeting.

Ms Mushwana agreed.

The Chairperson further noted that the Committee needed to deal with these issues as these needed to be part of the final Committee Report. She further noted that the submission had argued that the Quintile system was detrimental to schools.

Ms Mushwana said that it would be difficult to change the Quintile system. She said that the provincial departments checked the income status of the school and the parents and based their assessment of which Quintile level to use on these outcomes.

Ms Mashishi questioned what happened to the children who came from poor families but who attended better-equipped schools.

Ms Mushwana questioned how a person would be able to justify this.

The Chairperson said that Submission 115 was sent in by Florida School for Skills (BAS.EDU 115). This submission had said that the role of educators should be clarified, called for the Department to design and distribute lesson plans, teaching aids, worksheets and assessment tasks, and the provision of incentivised skills development for educators. The submission had also noted that there was a need for a standardised curriculum, syllabus and teaching materials.

The Chairperson noted that the Department was dealing with the lack of teaching aids and said that she hoped its intervention would deal with this issue. She noted that there was a lack of personnel trained as social workers in South Africa, and this made it difficult to have a social worker in each school.

Ms Mushwana said that she was surprised that principals were not in teaching. She noted that NEBA clearly stated that part of the principal’s responsibility was for to teach and she felt that principals should do what was expected of them.

The Chairperson asked Mr Dennis Bandi, Content Advisor: Parliament, to capture this in the final Committee Report.

Ms Mashishi noted that the issues about principals had been dealt with before.

Ms Mushwana asked about the document that proposed that if principals were to be the managers of the school, they should not be teaching.

The Chairperson asked Mr Bandi to check with the Department in this regard.

Submission 116 sent by Mr A Makhubedu (BAS.EDU 116) had raised the issues of under-equipped teachers being expected to teach new subjects or learning areas that were introduced into the curriculum, class size and managerial capacity.

The Chairperson asked Ms Mushwana for input on how to deal with new subjects or learning areas being introduced.

Ms Mushwana believed that the recommendation listed was a good one and concurred that new learning areas might not be introduced unless there was proper induction and training for educators.

The Chairperson noted that the issue of ratio and managerial capacity had already been dealt with in previous submissions.

Submission 117 from Mr Ross Walters (BAS.EDU 117) had raised the issues of children with special needs not being accommodated in mainstream schools, inclusive education not meeting the needs of children with autism, cerebral palsy, and other disorders, and the lack of special needs high schools.

The Chairperson explained to the Committee that she and Ms Mashishi had met with the staff of a school for deaf children. They found that the teachers at the school were not able to use sign language and as a result, intelligent, capable young people were streamed into careers such as sewing and cooking. She suggested that an oversight visit needed to be conducted.

Mr Mahade, Researcher: Parliament, said that there was a lack of trained people and resources.

The Chairperson felt that this was unacceptable. She said that if that were the case, then these special needs schools might as well be closed down. She noted that the Committee would make recommendations once it had visited the schools. She asked Mr Bandi to highlight the insufficient number of high schools in the final Committee Report.

Submission 118 sent by the Mental Health and Poverty Project, University of Cape Town (UCT)  (BAS.EDU 118) had raised the issue of the relationship of mental health and education. It had noted that could lead to educational failure, poor performance and premature school leaving. It had further noted that high levels of education could have a positive impact on mental health through improving social status.

The Chairperson acknowledged the submission and noted that the Mental Health and Poverty Project, UCT, had been invited to do an oral submission.

Submission 119 sent by Mr Hendrick Hahn from the North West University (BAS.EDU 119) had raised the issue of the importance of information technology (IT) as a school subject. He had noted that there was an overload of IT content which was complicated and difficult to understand. The fact that Delphi and Java were too complex to synchronise therefore decreased the amount of learner enrolment. He had noted the lack of one programming language in South Africa.

The Chairperson asked whether any of the Members had any IT knowledge and would be able to explain what Mr Hahn meant. None of the Members was able to assist. She then asked Mr Bandi to capture the submission in the final Committee report.

Submission 120 sent by Mr A M Suliman (BAS.EDU 120) had raised the issue of the Physical Science curriculum being too challenging, work done in the General Education and Training (GET) Phase being below standard, and the differences and discrepancies in the percentage ratios in the GET Phase and the Further Education and Training (FET) Phase. The submission had also noted the differences in interpretation of the topic of Practical Investigations and Research.

The Chairperson asked Mr Bandi to check which of the issues had not been captured and whether a review of the Physical Sciences curriculum had been proposed.

Mr Mahade said that the percentage ratio for assessment in the GET phase was 75% for tasks completed in class throughout the year and 25% for the final exam, whereas the opposite was true when learners reached Grade 9.

The Chairperson asked Ms Mashishi whether she agreed.

Ms Mashishi was not sure about this matter as she had not taught at high school level.

Mr Bandi asked whether he could check if the new curriculum in fact covered this issue.

The Chairperson asked Mr Bandi and Mr Mahade to check.

Mr Bandi further suggested that the gap between the FET and GET Phase be included in the final Committee Report for the attention of the Department.

Submission 121 sent by Mrs Lynch (BAS.EDU 121) had raised the issues of the absence of health professionals in schools, the under funding of school libraries, and learners who were not first language English speakers.

The Chairperson noted that some of the issues had been addressed previously. She felt that the recommendation of giving incentives to educators to learn an indigenous African language was a good one. She also felt that educators should be able to explain difficult concepts to their learners in their native tongue. She proposed that teachers should be offered an incentive to learn an indigenous African language.

Submission 122 from South African (SA) Media (University of Free State) (BAS.EDU 122) had raised the issue of the poor standard of literacy. The submission had argued that the reason for this was the inaccessibility of libraries to learners in public schools and alluded to the fact that the realisation of functional libraries in every school was unlikely due to the enormous cost associated with them.

The Chairperson acknowledged the submission and noted that SA Media (University of Free State) had been invited to do an oral submission.

Submission 123 sent by Mr Richard Northmole (BAS.EDU 123) had proposed a more equitable adjustment of imbalances in administration and the improvement of real results in all subjects. He had further proposed the rapid improvement of teacher knowledge, skills, ability and understanding in all subjects at all schools.

The Chairperson said that these issues had been discussed previously.

Submission 124 sent by Ms M M Moremi, Tshepang Kopano Academy (BAS.EDU 124) had asked for information regarding how her company could become involved with programmes offered by the Department.

The Chairperson asked Mr Llewellyn Brown, the Secretary of the Committee, to call Ms Moremi.

Submission 125 sent by Mr Anthony Lister, Sea Point High School (BAS.EDU 125) had raised the issues of the constant criticism of teachers on their lack of performance, the culture of entitlement to pass or progress to the next grade regardless of academic competence or readiness, the lack of holding learners accountable, and the lack of effective measures or support available to educators to instil discipline, work ethic and responsibility in learners.

The Chairperson said that these issues had been discussed previously.

Submission 126 sent by Stutterheim High School (BAS.EDU 126) had raised the issues of the challenges to education, for example, infrastructure backlog, inaccessibility of schools in rural areas, and not including Section 21 schools in the distribution of materials. The submission had also noted the influence of the South African Democratic Teacher’s Union (SADTU), which was detrimental at times to schools in the province and the problem of lack of discipline.

The Chairperson asked Mr Bandi to include the Curriculum and textbook issues in the final Committee Report. She was unsure what was meant in the recommendation for the Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) to be overhauled to include external evaluation and asked Ms Mushwana to explain.

Ms Mushwana explained that IQMS officials were used to assess teachers.

Submission 127 sent by Fish Hoek Primary School (BAS.EDU 127) had raised the issues of the lack of focus on basic skills of the Grade 4 Maths Curriculum and low subject content knowledge on the part of educators. The submission also noted that the Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) system had worked well where the basics were in place.

The Chairperson asked Mr Bandi to include the Curriculum and textbook issues in the final Committee Report. She was in favour of the recommendation to provide rewards for professional development as suggested by Fish Hoek Primary School.

Submission 128 sent by Ms Cheryl J Charles, Mind Lab (BAS.EDU 128) had raised the issues of cognitive education forming part of the curriculum, and the lack of material or tools provided to educators to teach learners their critical and creative thinking skills.

The Chairperson acknowledged the submission and noted that Ms Charles had been invited to make an oral submission.

The meeting was adjourned.





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