The Department of Basic Education reported that overarching problems and challenges were that most learners who experienced barriers to learning, including the disabled, either fell outside of the system or were main-streamed by default. The curriculum and education system had generally failed to respond to the diverse needs of the learner population, resulting in a massive number of drop-outs, push-outs and failures.
The Department described its response to the identified challenges, and noted that the Minister had appointed a Curriculum Management Team in 2010 to develop the South African Sign Language curriculum for Grades R - 12. The planned implementation of the curriculum was with effect from 2013.
In response to a question on remedial classes, the Department said that inclusivity meant moving away from remedial classes. Learners that required additional support, that must be provided through certain means but the learner should still come back to the mainstream classroom to learn with the rest. Where assistive support required that some of the learners required assistive devices to enhance their retention, provinces were procuring assistive devices and had been buying through tender. The Department had engaged with National Treasury to coordinate the procurement of those devices so that provinces would buy for their schools progressively. National Treasury had agreed to coordinate the different departments, such as Health and Social Development, because assistive devices were not educational by nature – wheelchairs were not educational. Someone had to coordinate that everything happened within a coordination framework. In terms of the 100 000 learners screened through the mass screening programme, the focus was on vision, hearing, de-worming, nutrition and other aspects. The Department was looking at providing assistive devices such as spectacles for those screened for vision and hearing. The Chairperson said that the Annual Performance Plan would need to include details of what the Department planned to do in the financial year 2011/12. She requested a breakdown of the 94 schools, and of the 22 schools. The Committee would meet with the Department again at the end of the month, and the presentation would be discussed a second time because there were so many questions.
National Curriculum Statement
The Department of Basic Education reported that in the current context a learner in grades 1, 2 and 3 had three learning programmes – literacy, numeracy and life skills. On arriving at grade 4 the learner would move from three learning programmes to eight. There was a recommendation to reduce the overload in the intermediate phase by reducing the number of subjects from nine to six. The Department had developed a toolkit for training of Foundation Phase teachers on Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement. There was an indication that the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement was thought to be a major deviation from the current curriculum but the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement on its own was not the entire curriculum. A pre-implementation workshop on the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement took place on 23 and 24 May 2011. The outcome of the workshop was that teachers felt there was still a question of overload. As a result the Department was going out to schools to give clear instructions as to what areas had to be covered. Another view was that the assessment should not be too prescriptive. Orientation and training of teachers and managers was fundamental for the effective implementation of Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement.
Members were concerned that the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement was the third curriculum change since 1994. Curriculum change was a very difficult thing for teachers. While one supported the Statement process, it must be ensured that the educational needs of children were the first priority. Members had difficulty with the speed at which the Department wanted to implement it, argued that more subject advisers were needed, asked for clarity as to what informed the numbers for the foundation phase, said that in a democratic state education must be developed to international standards, believed the Department was promoting quality education, and felt that parents were not sufficiently involved in the education of their children.
Action Plan to 2014 – Early Childhood Development
The Department of Basic Education reported that Early Childhood Development was one of the key output votes defined in the Action Plan to 2014, but the success of Early Childhood Development also required collaboration between the Department of Social Development, the Department of Basic Education, as well as the Department of Health and the Department of Cooperative Governance. The Action Plan 2014 was a sector plan that the Minister of Education and the Members of the Executive Council had developed and were using to guide development. The output goals were described. Another issue was to improve the qualifications of Grade R practitioners as per the new Higher Education Qualifications Framework in collaboration with the Teacher Education Plan and the Department of Higher Education and Training.
A pressing matter for the Department was for the improvement of conditions of service for practitioners in line with their qualifications and the proposed scenarios for employment. The Department acknowledged that not enough attention had been paid to this area.
Members suggested adding monitoring and evaluation of Grade R, commented that the introduction of proper support for Grade R, financial and otherwise, was fundamental, emphasised the importance of Grade R, asked whether every school in South Africa was included in terms of infrastructure, and were concerned and challenged with regard to the language policy and mother tongue. There were parents who wished their children to be instructed in English in order to avoid the challenge in Grade 4. The policy was not responding to the needs of parents. The Department responded in detail: there was a need to understand definition of mother tongue vis-à-vis home language. It was a complicated matter.
Meeting reportMr Edward Mosuwe, Acting Director-General, Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring, Department of Basic Education(DBE) tendered apologies on behalf of Mr Bobby Soobrayan, Director-General, who had been taken ill and was unable to travel.
Dr Moses Simelane, Director: Inclusive Education, briefed the Committee. Overarching problems and challenges were that most learners who experienced barriers to learning, including the disabled, either fell outside of the system or were mainstreamed by default. The curriculum and education system had generally failed to respond to the diverse needs of the learner population, resulting in a massive number of drop-outs, push-outs and failures.
The response to the identified challenges was to:
- Increase the number of full service schools to at least one for every district while ensuring their access to specialist services;
- Increase the percentage of schools in which at least one teacher had received specialised training in the identification and provision of support to special needs;
- Progressively strengthen the capacity of district offices to provide support to schools in the identification of special needs and provision of appropriate support; and
- Provide appropriate and accessible textbooks, workbooks and other Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM ) for visually impaired learners in 22 schools for the Blind.
Dr Simelane outlined the developments alongside the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) to ensure appropriate response to special needs through CAPS:
- Policy statements for accommodating diversity through curriculum delivery and assessment were developed and approved for incorporation into CAPS;
- Accommodation of diversity through the curriculum was included in the CAPS Orientation Programme for provincial and district officials;
- 200 provincial, district and School Management Team (SMT) officials from 66 schools were trained in specialised areas of visual and hearing impairment in March 2011 (22 schools for the Blind and 44 schools for the Deaf); and
- Workbook 1 for grades 1-6 were adapted for Braille and grades 10-12 textbooks were ordered for the 22 schools for the Blind.
The next steps in that regard were to develop training programmes on accommodation of diversity through CAPS for teachers and school management teams progressively through to 2014; to ensure access to workbooks and textbooks for learners in schools for the Blind in line with the phased implementation of CAPS to 2014; and to develop training programmes on specialised skills for 700 and 1000 teachers of visually and hearing impaired learners respectively, starting in 2011 to 2014.
The Minister had appointed a Curriculum Management Team (CMT) in 2010 to develop the South African Sign Language (SASL) curriculum for Grades R - 12. The planned implementation of the curriculum was with effect from 2013.
One of the key strategies for implementing the inclusive education policy was the progressive conversion of ordinary schools to full service schools. To date 94 full service schools had been established in seven provinces.
Dr Simelane turned to the identification of special needs and provision of support. The system introduced the screening, identification, assessment and support (SIAS) strategy for identification of barriers to learning and provision of appropriate support. Implementation relied on other departments such as the Department of Health and the Department of Social Development (DSD) as well.
Special schools, particularly their conversion to resource centres, provided access to specialist services and contributed to the strengthening of district capacity to support special needs. 200 officials were trained in visual and hearing impairment to support the 66 special schools. Next steps were to train 700 teachers for visually impaired learners and 1 000 for hearing impaired learners in specialised skills from 2011 to 2013; to finalise the transfer of reform schools and schools of industry to DSD by 01 April 2012; to coordinate the progressive conversion of special schools to resource centres; and to coordinate procurement of accessible LTSM and assistive devices.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) asked why the first target was to increase the number of full service schools to at least one for every district; every public school, and private school, at primary level, should be a full service school.
Mr Mosuwe responded that the problem statement articulated that, whilst White Paper 6 in 2001 recognised that the country and the system had those challenges, the Department acknowledged that it had not done enough. One of the key areas that it had not done sufficiently was inclusive education. Since the White Paper there had been inconsistent mechanisms of implementation.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) sought clarity as to whether there were facilities for the learners with disabilities, such as ramps.
Of the 94 full service schools, the number varied from province to province; the Department must improve on that.
Dr Simelane responded to the question relating to the 94 full service schools as opposed to ensuring inclusivity in all schools. That was a phase in process, even the Action Plan to 2014 spoke to increasing the number of full service schools. It was also coupled with resourcing those schools that were made inclusive schools.
The training issues in the presentation started a long time ago; implementation was very slow.
Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) found the presentation too brief to be comprehensible. He had many questions.
He referred to increasing the percentage of schools in which at least one teacher received specialised training in the identification and provision of support to special needs. One teacher per school was not enough. He was concerned as to whether there was a budget for such training.
Dr Simelane explained that the plan was developed from teachers' development plans, and the strategy was to ensure that the issue of special needs was addressed in building capacity within the teacher cadre, focusing on inclusivity.
Mr Mpontshane said it was argued that the weakest link in our education was in strengthening of capacity of district offices, so now how would the district offices be strengthened to provide support to schools in the identification of special needs and provision of appropriate support?
Mr Mosuwe clarified that one of the areas for the success of all areas in Basic Education relied on the capacity of the districts, which was why the Minister of Basic Education had called for a meeting of District Directors, to continue to impress on the District Directors the importance of the role that districts played. The success of any plan for the improvement of support to schools, in terms of both teaching and learning, relied on that capacity. There were districts with different capacities, but there were always those districts that gave adequate support that schools could be turned around, and in that context the Department would want to see the continuous strengthening of that level of support.
Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) referred to the problem statement and asked for clarification of ‘push-outs’.
Mr Mosuwe explained that because little attention was given to the specific barriers that learners had, it was noted that there were instances where learners dropped off of the system, and as a result were not able to receive the necessary attention. The question of push outs was where schools may not have had an opportunity to deal with such challenges, the general tendency being they did not have the support, the parents felt helpless and the learners gave up. The White Paper was an acknowledgement that the problem was there, and for the Department it was a reminder to be vigorous about. Having noted those challenges, maybe the Department should also be interrogating the inclusive education presentation in line with development in respect of the Action Plan to 2014. In the context of the Action Plan to 2014 the Minister of Basic Education had asked how the education system could be turned around to ensure response to the challenges.
The presentation mentioned a number of teachers trained, a number of officials trained, 700 teachers to be trained for visually impaired learners and 1000 for hearing impaired in special skills – but he did not get a sense of how many teachers were being trained and when that gap would be filled.
Mr Mosuwe responded that a Teacher Development framework had been developed that would ensure teacher capacity.
Mr Makhubele asked for the location and names of the 94 established full service schools for oversight purposes, and also whether there were any challenges.
Mr Mosuwe would provide those names together with an indication of the challenges those schools experienced.
Mr D Smiles (DA) said there was very little in the Annual Plans whilst there was a brilliant presentation; somebody was taking the Committee for a ride. He referred to pages 22 and 23 in the Annual Plans. He concurred with Mr Skosana that it appeared to be starting with inclusive education. The Department must explain why the Annual Plan did not speak to the presentation.
Mr Mosuwe responded that inclusive education should not be seen in isolation because every other element, such as increasing access to high quality LTSM, that high quality LTSM did not only refer to the mainstream schools but also referred to special schools and others, which was why the presentation mentioned having developed workbooks for ordinary sighted children, but those workbooks also had to be adapted for other learners.
Mr Smiles appreciated the number of full service schools as one of the highlights of the presentation; he went back to the schools in the district. There was a problem with literacy and numeracy and there was no solution for that. In the previous education system there were remedial classes to help learners with reading and writing. Did the Department consider bringing back remedial classes?
Mr Mosuwe clarified the method. The Action Plan deliberately mentioned that the Department must as a system increase the number of full service schools. The definition of a full service school was a school that ensured accommodation of diversity of learners irrespective of ability or disability. Learners presented disabilities in different ways. The full service school had to ensure that learners would be able to receive adequate education.
Dr W James (DA) was concerned that the period of implementation of CAPS was too short. The publishers had difficulty in getting quality textbooks done in time, and the teacher training programme that should accompany the CAPS programme was not at all clear.
Mr Mosuwe said there would be a presentation articulating the challenges in relation to that.
Dr James also asked what kind of teacher training programmes were in place, where, what were the dates for the training for getting them up to speed in terms of the requirements of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement? He asked for the dates of the teacher training programmes and at which institutions?
Mr Mosuwe responded that there was a policy on promotion and progression of learners. A learner was progressed on the understanding that while that policy was forward looking it also assumed that the teacher would be able to understand that the next receiving teacher would be able to deal with the learner.
Mr N Kganyago (UDM) asked for clarity on drop-outs and push outs.
Mr Kganyago referred to the issue of progressively strengthening the capacity of district offices to provide support to schools in the identification of special needs and provision of appropriate support. That was a very important statement. He recalled that there had been discussion on the training and availability of psychologists in the Department of Basic Education, and of psychologists from the Department of Health and the Department of Social Development were used. Those departments did not have enough psychologists, and many of them were not trained for education. Did the Department plan to train school psychologists, because strengthening district offices would assist teachers?
Mr Mosuwe responded that currently the pressure, not only in the Department but also in the Health sector in respect of the availability of health professionals, and the question of psychosocial support was receiving attention. In the context of the Action Plan, as well as the delivery agreement that the Minister of Basic Education had signed was how the Department would leverage support from other departments. One of the key elements of the delivery agreement was that there had to be a relationship and cooperation, and it was in that context that the issue of psychosocial support was being looked at.
Psychosocial support would be taken with the delivery agreement in relation to the Department as to how that support was provided. In collaboration with the Department of Health 100 000 grade 1 learners were screened with regard to barriers to learning, the plan being that those learners were captured on the data system and in time would be able to check where those learners were and ensure that they were appropriately supported.
Ms C Dudley (ACDP) noted that of the 94 full service schools North West had 71 and KwaZulu-Natal 14, while Gauteng had zero and Western Cape 2 – why was there such a difference? She asked what were the challenges and successes; did it look promising?
Mr Mosuwe said there were successes in North West compared to others, and some were models. There were some very good models of inclusive education support in KwaZulu-Natal compared to other provinces. It differed from province to province and would be indicated in the report to be furnished to the Committee.
Mr C Moni (ANC) noted that the problem statement identified various barriers to learning in 2001, and asked what the situation would be ten years later, in 2011?
Dr Simelane responded that there had been slow progress. The Department acknowledged that that had been a challenge. Dealing with barriers to learning required a multi disciplinary approach, the Department of Education could not do it alone, it needed the cooperation of other stakeholders – non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which were working in that area, higher education institutions, the Department of Health, the Department of Social Development, and National Treasury, because overcoming barriers to learning was resourced intensely and therefore funding was required.
There was lack of capacity in the country broadly, especially when it came to dealing with some of the disabilities. He used the example of converting from text to Braille. There were only two Brailling houses in South Africa, and they served other sectors as well, so the question of capacity had to be taken into account as well, and that contributed to the slow pace at which barriers to learning were being addressed by the Department.
Mr Moni asked, on Curriculum and Assessment, development of training programmes on specialised skills for 700 and 1000 teachers of visually and hearing impaired learners respectively, what informed that decision, and how many were there currently?
Dr Simelane said that was the audit the Department did in those schools to establish the number of teachers. Those were the teachers to be trained in the three years in those specialised areas.
Ms Gina noted that there were only 22 schools for the blind in the country, and that textbooks were being prepared for those 22 schools. There were always complaints about matric results and the challenges blind people had. She asked what informed the 22, because those textbooks would assist learners to get a matric certificate.
Dr Simelane responded that the Department only had 22 special schools for the blind in the country.
Ms Gina was concerned that the presentation concentrated more on the visually impaired whereas there was a diversity of disabilities, what about those other disabilities?
Dr Simelane said those were the first two disabilities that the Department had prioritised, but did not take away the Department’s responsibility to give capacity in dealing with other disabilities.
Ms Gina raised the issue of infrastructure in schools and asked what the Department was doing about inclusive education, not only in the full service schools, but also mainstream schools where people with disabilities had to be catered for? What were the plans for other schools?
Ms Gina said, coming from the Western Cape, she was approached by a group of people who mentioned the challenges in special schools, most coming from Guguletu and the surrounding townships, that they did not get the necessary attention and assistance from the Department of Basic Education. The educators were being trained but did not have means to communicate with the learners and the parents ended up assisting the learners because the teachers were not in a position to impart that knowledge. There were people who could not access schools, there were slow learners, besides those who could not see and could not hear.
Ms Mushwana asked whether it was the Department’s plan to transform the education of this country into inclusive education? All learners were different and every classroom must be child friendly.
Dr Simelane replied that inclusivity in every classroom was something the Department wanted through CAPS, which was why, through the methodology, it was ensured that teachers in the classroom were able to capture the interest and aspirations of every learner, and that was built into the CAPS document. That had already taken place with district and provincial officials so that at those levels officials were able to support schools in ensuring that teachers were assisting every learner in the classroom, and therefore increasing participation and maximising.
Mr Skosana added that if learners with disabilities were being absorbed into the mainstream there must be visible resources for their assistance. The problem was the monitoring mechanism of the national Department needed improvement. Was implementation visible on the ground?
Mr Makhubele again asked for the names of the 22 schools and where they were located.
Dr Simelane reiterated that a list would be provided, as well as the numbers of children with special needs per province.
Mr Mpontshane was concerned that so many learners in KwaZulu-Natal had special needs, and schools in the rural areas were getting a raw deal. Every school should be a full service school but there was much to be desired, inclusive education became very elusive.
Mr Kganyago acknowledged that apartheid was a terrible thing, but it would be a mistake to run away from some of the good things of that era. The Department of Education had psychological services. The Department should go back to basics.
Mr Smiles said the Department had screened 100 000 learners in grade 1; what was going to happen? 10% of 100 000 was 10 000 learners with learning barriers all over South Africa. Would those learners be sent to remedial classes or special schools? All those children being screened and not being attended to would be disastrous.
Dr Simelane responded that talking inclusivity meant moving away from remedial classes. Learners that required additional support, that must be provided through certain means but the learner should still come back to the mainstream classroom to learn with the rest. Where assistive support required that some of the learners required assistive devices to enhance their retention, provinces were procuring assistive devices and had been buying through tender. The Department had engaged with National Treasury to coordinate the procurement of those devices so that provinces would buy for their schools progressively. National Treasury had agreed to coordinate the different departments, such as Health and Social Development, because assistive devices were not educational by nature – wheelchairs were not educational. Someone had to coordinate that everything happened within a coordination framework.
In terms of the 100 000 learners screened through the mass screening programme, the focus was on vision, hearing, deworming, nutrition and other aspects. For those screened for vision and hearing the Department was looking at providing assistive devices such as spectacles.
Ms Dudley asked whether, in line with policy, the teacher-training curriculum was changing radically? She was visualising the situations every teacher had to deal with in their class while the Department was training people.
Ms Dudley also felt that a greater degree of teacher assistance was needed.
Dr Simelane agreed there was a great need for teacher assistance. The Department had 37 000 schools so it would be very difficult to provide teacher assistance for every classroom. One approach was to introduce learning support facilitators, who were qualified teachers employed by provinces and based at district level. They were not based at specific schools but provided support to schools, moving around the district, so that all schools in the district were served. The learning support facilitators were not yet in all provinces, it was a progressive and phased in approach because of limited capacity.
The Chairperson noted the inclusion of the White Paper. The Department spoke to challenges that differed from province to province. The Committee needed details of how the challenges were being addressed. The Annual Performance Plan was referred to as the Action Plan to 2014. The Annual Performance Plan would need to include details of what the Department planned to do in the financial year 2011/12.
The Chairperson requested a breakdown of the 94 schools, and of the 22 schools. Last year the Committee visited a school and was told that CAPS did not support the needs of that school.
The Committee would meet with the Department again at the end of the month, and the presentation would be discussed a second time because there were so many questions.
National Curriculum Statement
Mr Mosuwe briefed the Committee on the National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12, and the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).
The Chairperson had mentioned the curriculum with respect to the schools of skills; the schools of skills should have been covered under Inclusive Education. It was noted that there were still those schools where curriculum was a challenge.
Mr Mosuwe gave the background as to how the development of CAPS arose. In 2008/09 the Minister complained about challenges in respect of the national curriculum, and at the heart of it was the design of the curriculum in terms of learner based outcomes and assessment standards. Each learning outcome had a whole range of assessment standards. It was assumed that every teacher would be able to understand how to interpret the learning outcomes and assessment standards as a means of teaching. Teachers had to report against those assessment standards, and had to break knowledge into so many little pieces that a teacher had to be more of an administrator than a teacher. It was also a question of interpretation, because if one had assessment standards and depended on the learners for capacity and experience of the teachers the result was going from one school to the next the curriculum was interpreted differently.
Despite the curriculum having spoken to an internationally comparable curriculum, it was still found that learner performance, especially in numeracy and literacy, was very low. As a result the Minister put a team together to go and listen to the challenges from the teachers themselves, there were public hearings and other submissions. The team was asked to identify the challenges and come up with interventions. Teachers wanted curriculum documents to be nationalised into a single set of coherent documents.
In the current context a learner in grades 1, 2 and 3 had three learning programmes – literacy, numeracy and life skills. On arriving at grade 4 would move from three learning programmes to eight, and, in addition, for the majority of learners whose language of instruction in grades 1, 2 and 3 was not their mother tongue or home language or language there was a change in the language of learning and teaching. That was why the team recommended reducing the overload in the intermediate phase by reducing the number of subjects from nine to six.
Mr Mosuwe stressed the role of textbooks. There had been a tendency to think that textbooks were no longer important. It was important to reassert the role of textbooks, notwithstanding other supplementary support material, and to ensure that every child had a textbook for every subject.
Mr Mosuwe turned to Development of the CAPS. He outlined criteria for the appointment of writers for CAPS the public comment process on CAPS, and how those public comments were addressed.
In terms of the status on development of CAPS, CAPS for all phases was developed and submitted to publishers for textbook development; CAPS was edited and ready for design layout; the finalised CAPS would be made immediately available on the DBE website and PDE websites following Ministerial approval. The DBE would also be printing CAPS for teachers. Districts would be required to assist the coordination of distribution to schools to ensure that all teachers had copies of CAPS.
Umalusi – the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training - had indicated that it would use different methods for the quality control and benchmarking of CAPS, and would set an expected standard for each subject during each phase of learning.
Mr Mosuwe turned to training on CAPS. The DBE developed a toolkit for training of FP (Foundation Phase) teachers on CAPS. 336 Foundation Phase subject advisers and 2 390 FET subject advisers in nine provinces attended orientation workshops on CAPS between April and May 2011. The training toolkits for FP and Grade 10 were revised based on the feedback from training sessions and would be used across the system for training purposes. The provincial departments of education and districts were to ensure that teachers were trained and provided with support in the implementation of the CAPS in the classroom from 2012.
The budget for the training of teachers would come from the teacher training budgets of the respective provinces.
There was an The CAPS on its own, without those other supporting documents, would be meaningless. CAPS on its own was not the entire curriculum.
The policy document on national policy pertaining to the programme and promotion requirements of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R – 12 gave the combination of subjects that a learner would be required to have.
The National Protocol on Assessment consolidated all the members contained in the CAPS and in the Policy document equally to further give guidance to teachers.
A pre-implementation workshop on CAPS took place on 23 and 24 May 2011. Each of the teacher unions was supplied with compact discs (CDs) of CAPS for all subjects three weeks ahead of the workshop. There was overall support f the CAPS in terms of their design and support for teachers. The subjects that were discussed in detail at the workshop included mathematics, physical sciences, accounting, languages, natural science and technology, and geography. CAPS for the other subjects was deemed to be acceptable and manageable for implementation.
The outcome of the workshop was that teachers felt there was still a question of overload. As a result the Department was going out to schools to give clear instructions as to what areas had to be covered over a period of time and would gradually increase the implementation. Another view was that the assessment should not be too prescriptive. Orientation and training of teachers and managers was fundamental for the effective implementation of CAPS.
Implementation of CAPS would be in terms of time lines. 2011 would be used to prepare the system for the introduction of the National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement; 2012 implementation in Grades R-3 and Grade 10; 2013 implementation in Grades 4-9 and Grade 11; and 2014 implementation in Grade 12.
Dr James was concerned that CAPS was the third curriculum change since 1994. Curriculum change was a very difficult thing for teachers. He understood why it happened and supported the CAPS process. Three things needed to be done, to reconceptualise what ought to be taught, the publication of good textbooks and workbooks, and to train teachers. He could not understand why the Department was rushing the process. The only explanation was because the Minister signed the Performance Agreement and was required to deliver before the 2014 elections, political priorities above the needs of children. There was no precedent for producing quality outcomes. Dr James quoted from the Publishers Association of South Africa (PASA) that after their meeting with the Department of Education the plan of intervention for the grades in one year was not feasible and that education quality and cost effectiveness would be compromised. It took eighteen years to print a textbook; it could not be done in six months. If quality was required it must be phased in properly. Dr James had written a review of the entire process for the Argus after careful research. He believed that urgency undermined quality. There was still time to revise the schedule. It must be ensured that the educational needs of children were the first priority.
Mr Mosuwe emphasised that at the heart of what CAPS sought to address was to bring relief to the classroom for the teacher who may not know how best to interpret the current design of the curriculum that presented them with learning outcomes and assessment standards which they may not necessarily be able to interpret, and ensure that learners could get the required competence. Another way of looking at it was whether CAPS was a significant deviation from the current National Curriculum Statement? CAPS was not new but the same subject statement that was currently in the system. On that basis CAPS sought to provide for that level of certification.
Mr James interjected that that was not the problem. He understood all that but had difficulty with the speed at which the Department wanted to implement.
Mr Mosuwe continued that it was on that basis that if one considered what had been done for the CAPS to bring modification, should it be delayed, or, given the challenges, to phase it in. The decision was to phase it in in a particular manner.
Mr Mosuwe found it very unfortunate that Mr James referred to a comment by PASA because the Department had been in constant communication with the Publishers’ Associations, not only PASA, because it was one association, but the African Publishers’ Association and other independent publishers. There had been an indication of tight time frames but there had also been an indication that the deadlines could be met. The Department also called for publishers to submit because before textbooks could be screened the publishers had to make known the titles they would submit. As it related to the Foundation Phase over 3000 submissions were registered by publishers. Over 589 titles were registered by publishers fro Grade 10.
Ms Mushwana argued that more subject advisers were needed. She asked for clarity as to what informed the numbers for the foundation phase, only 336 subject advisers for all nine provinces while FET trained more. Unless the foundation was taken seriously education would be flawed for life.
Mr Mosuwe agreed; the Department’s focus was on the foundation phase, but provinces were only asked to bring a limited number. However, the Department took note of that. There were so many numbers for the FET because for each of the FETs the Department had to ensure that there was CAPS training in respect of specific subjects, and there were many more subjects. Mr Mosuwe concurred with the whole issue of subject advisers to support schools, but the Department was also in the process of strengthening districts and one of the things that were done in the reorganisation of districts was to clarify the role of subject advisers.
Mr Skosana disagreed with Dr James; it was a very good presentation and was not addressing an election issue. In a democratic state education must be developed to international standards. He believed the Department was promoting quality education.
Mr Makhubele noted that the publishers were on board for the textbooks. A catalogue of textbooks was needed, teachers still claimed that they did not get delivery, and they ordered one thing and received something else. One teacher ordered 60 books and received 250. Who monitored delivery?
Mr Mosuwe responded that a policy decision was taken that the national catalogue when developed would have a limited number of titles, a limited number of textbooks that would further seek to ensure that books on the catalogue that used State money would deliver the curriculum. The national catalogue would further give guidance to teachers in terms of what each of the books contained.
Mr Mosuwe acknowledged that there were reports of such deliveries of the books. It sometimes happened where a province went for economies of scale. Only 45% of South African children had access to textbooks, while large sums of money were spent on textbooks. The challenge of every child not having a textbook was because small orders placed with the publishers made the cost rocket. The national catalogue and the limitation thereto was one way in which the system sought to ensure it addressed economies of scale.
The fact that schools received more textbooks than required was related to the current situation with the workbooks. When the recent workbooks were done it began to demonstrate a major problem in the system with respect to quality of the data. There were instances where more quantities were provided than required, and in other cases less quantity. That was receiving attention. As a result of that the Department had to go back to provinces to verify the data, and also the information coming from schools, as a means of ensuring cover up for the shortfall.
Mr Mpontshane said one of the outcomes was that parents, especially Africans, were not involved in the education of their children. Teachers themselves found it was too prescriptive and did not fully understand; therefore parents playing a supportive role would have a problem. Was there any attempt to involve school governing bodies on the initiative?
Mr Mosuwe said it was not that the teachers did not support. They supported all the CAPS that were raised, especially in the subjects that were identified. There were sections, mostly geography and accounting, that were thought to be too prescriptive and were considered to be minimum standards.
Parents were important and were given regular updates to school governing body (SGB) information. The Department met on a quarterly basis with the SGB through the National Consultative Forum and through that forum presented an update on the CAPS on a regular basis.
Ms Gina referred to quality assurance by Umalusi, and the time frames were set for Grade 10 to be done in 2012. Umalusi was expected to get it right by 2012.
Mr Mosuwe responded that the Umalusi Grade 10 implementation was also a matter that had been taken up with Umalusi to get an indication of what would happen.
Ms Gina said, looking at the pre-implementation workshop, teachers were still coming up with challenges, how was the Department taking those into consideration?
Mr Mosuwe said the Department had taken note of those specific challenges. One way of mitigating, for example in terms of overload, was to give clear instructions to the system of what would be implemented. For example, the Department would know what would be assessed in Grade 12 and examination instructions would be issued in respect of Grade 12, the Department would know what areas would be covered in the remaining period. Those challenges must be dealt with. The Minister directed that a National Institute for Curriculum and Professional Development be established so that all those matters could be taken to that institute and that all of those areas could continuously be researched by that entity with a view that the Department could research the curriculum as and when required and not necessarily have to wait. Allowance should be made for the curriculum to be stabilised but both areas where there may be a need for research and realignment and the National Institute for Curriculum and Professional Development was intended to give that.
Ms Gina was happy about the textbooks being developed but was also concerned about the workbooks, how was the Department changing that to be in line with CAPS?
Mr Mosuwe said yes, the workbooks were being aligned to CAPS. The workbooks for 2011 were consumable so in 2012 new workbooks would come that would be aligned to the CAPS.
Mr Mpontshane asked what the reaction had been to the criticism from a number of academics and researchers of the tendency to use concepts and terms that were not easily understood by practitioners, such as CAPS; it added confusion.
Mr Mosuwe referred to the National Curriculum Statement slide. South Africa tended to use acronyms. The Department wanted to brand the curriculum as the National Curriculum Statement. It was the South African way of speaking, which was why young people used the Mix It language, which was getting away from having to write in full.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for the comprehensive report and for the time lines in place. The Committee would go through the report again with the Annual Performance Plans.
Action Plan to 2014 – Early Childhood Development
Mr Mosuwe spoke to the Action Plan. In Early Childhood Development (ECD) was one of the key output votes defined in the Action Plan to 2014, but the success of ECD also required collaboration between the Department of Social Development, the Department of Basic Education, as well as the Department of Health and the Department of Cooperative Governance.
The Action Plan 2014 was a sector plan that the Minister of Education and the Members of the Executive Council (MECs) had developed and were using to guide development.
An important output was the move to universal access to Grade R. The plan was to ensure that all children had access to Grade R. Currently 80% of schools offered Grade R, and there was a need to provide quality learning and teaching material to be used in line with CAPS.
ECD also covered 0 – 5 years.
The second output goal was to improve the quality of ECD. In order to ensure that young children that went to city centres had the appropriate level of stimulation, the number of children that had access to pre-Grade R services had to be improved; but equally ensure that all of the registered sites offered quality programmes.
The number of schools currently offering Grade R had progressively increased from 12 000 schools in 2007 to 16 000 schools in 2010. There was also a gradual increase in the number of children who had access to our schools.
In terms of increasing access to Grade R, the Department, together with its sister departments would need to have data on community-based sites for accurate reporting on access to include subsidised community based classes. The Department was moving towards including Grade R in the infrastructure plans of new and upgraded schools. A monitoring system would have to be established to address those key areas.
In terms of increasing access to 0-4 years, the standard document was developed with the support of UNICEF – the United Nations Children's Fund. The National Early Learning and Development Standards (NELDS) set out the type of stimulation should be given to a child of 0-6 months, of 7 months to 12 months, and so on, and gave an indication of what was expected of every centre that offered ECD pre Grade R. The Department partnered with DSD to establish the best mechanism of ensuring that clear programmes were developed to ensure that every person who took care of young children 0-4 would know what they had to do.
The training of ECD practitioners for skills development would be coordinated through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). One of the problems with ECD practitioners was because of the lack of parity of salaries the Department tended to lose teachers from the ECD side to schools, which was a matter that the Department was looking into more carefully. A joint monitoring system would be established with DSD.
Mr Mosuwe outlined the next steps. There was no overarching policy in the Department on ECD. The Department was now at a point where it was developing a national policy that would ensure it achieved better access to Grade R. That policy would relate to aspects of curriculum, to the deployment of teachers, the conditions of service of teachers, as well as looking at the norms and standards and the funding of Grade R in our schools.
Another issue was to improve the qualifications of Grade R practitioners as per the new Higher Education Qualifications Framework in collaboration with the Teacher Education Plan and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).
A pressing matter for the Department was for the improvement of conditions of service for practitioners in line with their qualifications and the proposed scenarios for employment.
The Department acknowledged that not enough attention had been paid to this area.
The Chairperson thanked the Department and noted that not enough attention was paid to that.
Mr Smiles suggested adding monitoring and evaluation of Grade R as another next step, because that had to be done. He was concerned at what was currently happening in the Grade R classes in the absence of an appropriate monitoring system. To do something that would have to be redone was wasting money and also the time and the future of those learners.
Mr Mosuwe said the Department would take cognisance of that very important aspect.
Dr James commented that the introduction of proper support for Grade R, financial and otherwise, was fundamental, and therefore he supported that. From a learning point of view the child’s brain was most susceptive to cognition qualities and must get it right at that level, it wrong it would take a long time to undo. He was confident that it would be implemented in the proper way in some provinces and in other provinces not. Some provinces were very weak when it came to implementation. It was the weakest provinces in terms of implementation that had the greatest need. It must be ensured that the nation’s children in every province received the due attention required. He supported the Department and would be monitoring it from a parliamentary point of view.
Mr Mosuwe said it was important to continuously monitor implementation of the policies in each of the provinces and ensure that DBE provided leadership in areas where there could be weaknesses.
Ms Mushwana emphasised the importance of Grade R, it was important for the foundation to be right. She asked whether every school in South Africa was included in terms of infrastructure? What happened to those that were not going to be upgraded? The Committee needed the assurance that every school would have that programme.
Mr Mosuwe said the presentation was saying that the Department wanted to universalise Grade R so that every other child had the opportunity to get to Grade R, which was why it was planned to upgrade Grade R by 2014.
Mr Makhubele was concerned and challenged with regard to the language policy and mother tongue. There were parents who wished their children to be instructed in English in order to avoid the challenge in Grade 4. The policy was not responding to the needs of parents.
Mr Mosuwe said that was a very difficult, and depended on the interpretation of mother tongue. The language policy was very clear but how it was aligned. There was a need to understand our definition of mother tongue vis-à-vis home language. It was a complicated matter. In curriculum and educational terms it was taken as a first a home language, a first additional language, and a second additional language. It was not so easy to say what was mother tongue. A mother could be a Setswana, the father a Zulu speaker, that had to be debated. Traditionally the father was the head of the family. A child would say her mother was Afrikaans, but at home they spoke English.
Ms Gina asked how strong was the relationship between the DBE and the Department of Social Services in terms of improving access to 0-4 years.
Mr Mosuwe responded that the success of the delivery agreement rested on that relationship, and because of the focused approach it would be difficult for the two not to work together.
Did the DBE have a say in what was being done at that level 0-4? She was interested to know where the Department was involved when the children got to 5 years.
Mr Mosuwe said that was a sector that still needed to be regulated. In the Department’s interactions with DSD had started to register but the area in respect of quality still remained and needed to be strengthened. He was aware that there was an attempt to evaluate the National Integrated ECD Plan and the impact of that and whether there was progress in respect of that.
Ms Gina commended the Department for wanting each and every school to have a Grade R class. In future that should not be separated when speaking of Grades 1 – 9, Grade R must be part of that.
In terms of infrastructure, there was talk of upgrades to schools in the former disadvantaged areas, she asked for the assurance that Grade R would be included in the infrastructure of all of them.
Mr Mosuwe said that was also linked to the question of making Grade R compulsory. Currently it was not compulsory and therefore in terms of infrastructure it had to be provided in areas where infrastructure was being developed. In terms of the Department regarding infrastructure upgrade vis-à-vis the Department the Department had to provide input for above Grade R, but also schools that offered, for instance, science, would need laboratories.
The Chairperson said when the relationship with DSD had to be strengthened. There should be a meeting with DSD and this committee to discuss 0-4. She believed the Minister launched a programme that spoke to 0-4 years. If that foundation was not built upon properly it would affect the whole future of the child.
The Chairperson thanked the Department. The Committee would go through the presentation again at the end of the month. It was not as comprehensive but the Department had worked well today, and she thanked them for that.
Adoption of minutes
Minutes of Committee meetings held on 12 April 2011, 31 May 2011, and 07 June 2011, were all approved and adopted without amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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