A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
12 September 2000
PRESENTATIONS: COUNCIL FOR HIGHER EDUCATION; PRINT MEDIA
Council for Higher Education briefing document (See Appendix 1)
Towards a New Higher Education Landscape: Meeting the Equity, Quality and Social Development Imperatives of SA in 21st Century
Print Media South Africa presentation document (See Appendix 2)
The Council for Higher Education briefed the committee on ways to improve higher education in South Africa by taking into consideration specific developmental needs. One of the key problems identified is the shortage of undergraduate-degree graduates at present in South Africa. Furthermore there is a need for rationalisation at universities that provide similar programmes.
Print Media South Africa’s presentation illustrated the positive role which newspapers and magazines can have in education. They see it as a viable alternative to textbooks considering the dire lack thereof in schools at present.
Council for Higher Education
Professor Wiseman Nkuhlu, accompanied by Mr Saliem Badat, stated that the aim of the Council is to ensure that higher education is improved. Research had identified some key issues on how to reshape and resize the higher education system. His overriding concern is to advise the Minister on how the higher education system can make a lasting contribution to socio-economic development in South Africa. The current higher education system has many shortcomings even though a good infrastructure is in place. Proposals would be made in order to remedy these shortcomings.
Some problems with the current system were highlighted: there is a serious drain on natural resources which undermines the government’s ability to achieve national goals. High drop out rates have been identified. Knowing what the problems are establishes certain key equity, quality, effectiveness and efficiency challenges for them.
Mr Nkuhlu stated that the White Paper calls for a single, natural, co-ordinated, integrated and yet differentiated higher education system that advances equity. In response the Minister had therefore requested them to come up with proposals. Mr Nkuhlu emphasised that they need firstly to look at the developmental needs of the country before anything else. At present there is a demand for large numbers of quality undergraduate-degree graduates. He states that too much emphasis is placed on what the trends overseas are, one should rather identify what the local needs are. He felt that more qualified persons are required in industry in South Africa than ever before. Mr Nkuhlu stated that the prevailing trend of South African universities is to try to create uniformity amongst themselves. He added that they should rather try to deliver quality education programmes instead of replicating them. He cited a model adopted in California, USA that encouraged students to register for 4 year undergraduate degrees. He pointed out that this is exactly what our universities should do. The emphasis should be on having many undergraduate-degree graduates as opposed to a few post-graduate graduates. He felt that our universities should encourage undergraduate studies in areas such as accounting, finance and economics.
Mr Nkuhlu stated that institutions must have critical mass in terms of their mandate. He emphasised the need for institutions offering the same programmes to rationalise. He cited the as an example the Cape Town and Stellenbosch Universities which both offer a post-graduate medicine programme in the same geographical area.
Mr Nkuhlu raised the concern that there is a lack of participation of blacks and women in higher education. He felt that the issue of equity is a matter of policy that should be dealt with by the Department of Education. He asked who really contributes to policymaking in the country? The answer is that it is researchers who perform this task. He pointed out that white researchers are currently doing most of the research. This he felt could be a problem if one is trying to redress the issue of equity.
Mr Nkuhlu identified increased fragmentation as another problem. He stated that so many new campuses are opening up all the time and this is a trend that they need to put a stop to. As more open up, more are likely to close down.
He concluded by saying that in order for them to achieve their goals much funding and commitment is required.
Mr Green (ACDP) asked how much money is needed to fund the transition and the time needed to implement it. Mr Nkuhlu stated that much money is needed from donors but the exact figure has as yet not been finalised. Referring to the time frame required to effect the transition, he stated it would take between 5 -10 years.
Mr Ntuli (ANC) asked how the process of rationalisation is to be implemented. How does one prevent institutions from offering the same programmes? Mr Badat stated that one way is to benchmark enrollments. This means setting minimum required enrollment figures in order to be able to offer a programme. He emphasised the need for a National Quality Assurance System to be set in place to monitor the quality of programmes offered at institutions. He added that the belief that certain universities’ programmes are better than others, is a myth.
Mr Moonsamy (ANC) asked whether the autonomy of institutions would not be affected by their new strategy. Mr Nkuhlu stated that institutions’ autonomy should in any case be in the context of public accountability. However he did not see their autonomy being affected.
A member of the ANC asked how the Council proposes to stop graduates from leaving the country. Mr Badat stated that one way would be to charge the student the full cost of the studies. Once the student has paid off his debt he may leave the country if he so pleases.
Adv Gaum (NNP) asked how the merging of institutions will take place. If they refuse to merge, will they be forced to merge and, if so, will autonomy not be affected? Mr Nkuhlu stated that participation amongst institutions should be increased from 15% at present to approximately 30%. He emphasised that a more efficient, rational use of our infrastructure is required. He stated that these institutions are first and foremost accountable to the public but he reiterated what he had previously stated that autonomy would not be affected. He asked rhetorically whether the fact that technicons have a national curriculum infringes on their autonomy.
Mr Aucamp (AEB) asked what is meant by intervention, is it intervention by the state or by stakeholders? Mr Nkuhlu answered that there would be no unilateral intervening, but rather a comprehensive consultative process.
Mr Mogoba (PAC) asked how the decision to close down an institution would be taken. Is efficiency the criteria to be used? Mr Badat answered that " we need to look at our objectives". He felt that sensitivity is required in matters like this and that efficiency would definitely not be the only criteria. He stated that there is a need to create institutions that reflect the culture of a new South Africa.
A member of the minority party asked whether the merging of certain programmes would not cause the smaller black universities to disappear. Mr Nkuhlu replied that combination of programmes does not mean that the smaller black universities would disappear as opposed to the bigger white universities staying open. If the black university is servicing a particular area like a rural area, it will stay open. He stated that circumstances would determine the criteria to be used.
Print Media of South Africa
Dr Mathews stated that their aim is to promote education in South Africa. He firmly believed that this could be achieved by promoting the use of newspapers and magazines. He added that they are fighting the phenomenon of a-literacy (people who can read but do not want to read). Dr Mathews emphasised that they are working hand in hand with government departments and non-governmental organisations in order to achieve their aims.
Schools currently lack resources to buy textbooks. Consequently he believes that newspapers and magazines can fill this gap as they cover issues that affect us all.
Furthermore newspapers provide us with up-to-date information. He added that from a financial point of view they are inexpensive, as they are consumable and recyclable. It was also felt that they instill values and morals in children. Dr Mathews pointed out that newspapers and magazines create a bridge between the outside world and the classroom. He explained that newspapers and magazines create a bridge between the outside world and the classroom. Magazines and newspapers encourage holistic education as they cover many fields.
Dr Mathews stated that they get companies to sponsor schools with newspapers.
He informed the committee that they run workshops to educate teachers on how to educate using newspapers, also equipping them with guidebooks to facilitate the teaching process. Dr Mathews ended off the presentation by stating that they have started a democracy-building project to boost democracy in South Africa.
Adv Gaum (NNP) asked whether the guidebooks are in the various official languages.
Dr Mathews answered that it would be ideal for them to have it in all these languages but financing is a problem.
Ms Mothoagae (ANC) asked how these programmes are provided in the outlying areas.
Dr Mathews stated that the outlying areas do pose a problem. He explained that they are trying to get community newspapers involved, as they could be just as effective as their national counterparts. He feels that community newspapers are the way to go in rural areas but once again sponsorship is a problem.
Ms Mothoagae asked which grades they are targeting and also how they monitor the content of newspapers.
Dr Mathews stated that at present newspapers are targeting Grades 10, 11 and 12 but their aim is to focus on the lower grades as well. He added that teachers are taught in the workshops on how to make judgements regarding the content of newspaper articles.
The Chair, Prof Mayatula, asked how he should initiate such programmes in his constituency.
Dr Mathews advised the Chair to ask the newspapers in his area if they would be willing to provide such a service to the community. If they agree, then the next step would be to come to him to attend the workshops. He added that financing for these programmes are being provided for by banks and insurance companies.
The meeting was adjourned.
COUNCIL ON HIGHER EDUCATION (CHE)
PRESENTATION TO THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY) ON THE REPORT OF THE COUNCIL ON HIGHER EDUCATION SIZE AND SHAPE TASK TEAM
12 SEPTEMBER 2000
CONTEXT: THE LEGACY
1. HE institutions - HWIS and HBIs - profoundly shaped by apartheid planning and by the respective functions assigned to them in relation to the reproduction of the apartheid social order. Both sets of institutions inextricably linked to the apartheid project, including the bantustan policy.
2. Differentiation along unacceptable lines of race and ethnicity and accompanied by disadvantage of HBIs - related to financial resources and roles allocated to HBIs.
3. Disadvantage not just historical - also related to current capacities to pursue excellence and provide quality experiences and outcomes, and contribute to reconstruction and development.
4. A HE landscape 'largely dictated by the geo-political imagination of apartheid planners.'
1. A number of problems and weaknesses afflict the HE system. These are
· A serious drain on national resources and undermine government's ability to achieve its national goals.
· Also impact negatively on the possibilities for democratic consolidation through not realising social benefits of HE for development of society as a whole.
2. Problems and weaknesses establish key equity, quality, effectiveness and efficiency challenges.
1. White Paper calls for a single, national, co-ordinated, integrated and yet differentiated HE system which advances equity and quality and serves diverse needs and purposes.
2. The Minister emphasises the need to
-Realise the vision of a rational, seamless HE system, responsive to the
- needs of students of all ages and the intellectual challenges of the 21st century (Minister of Education, Call to Action, 27 July 1999).
3. Minister also stresses that
-the mission and location of HE institutions be re-examined with reference to both the strategic plan for the sector, and the educational needs of local communities and the nation at large in the 21st century.
4. Requests CHE to conduct 'a far-reaching review' (and) provide the Minister 'with a set of concrete proposals on the shape and size of the HE system.'
5. The work of the Task Team animated by the fundamental centrality of HE to the future prospects of South Africa to
· Economic growth, social development and political stability
· Equity and the social advancement of historically disadvantaged social groups
· A better life for all!
6. Overall objective is development of a HE system which delivers effective and efficient provision and is based on equity, quality and excellence, responsiveness, and good governance and management
A NEW HE LANDSCAPE
1. The Task Team proposals
· Provide a framework and foundation for making rational the present incoherent, wasteful and uncoordinated higher education system, enabling significant improvements in quality and equity and ensuring that the knowledge and human resource needs of a developing democracy are effectively realised
· Enable the present system to be reconfigured as a differentiated and diverse system so that there can be effective responses from institutions to the varied social needs of the country
· Provide for a new reconfigured system in which institutions have a range of mandates (principal orientations and core foci) and pursue coherent and more explicitly defined educational and social purposes with respect to the production of knowledge and successful graduates
1. Concept of 'combination' - 'joining, junction, association, uniting, blending, admixture, fusion, unification'.
2. Combination includes 'merger' but not reducible to it.
3. Provides for a range of possibilities.
4. offers the opportunity for creating a more rational and responsive higher education landscape than that which is a legacy of apartheid
5. Report provides examples of possible combinations to illustrate the different objectives that could be realised.
6. Report strongly recommends that Minister should investigate full range of possibilities for combinations - also be open to compelling combination possibilities that may emerge from the iterative national planning process.
1 Policy = "authoritative allocation of values" - legitimation of values.
2. Achievement of equity is being compromised by inefficiencies, the lack of effectiveness, and shortcomings in quality.
3. Social justice makes imperative the possibility for social advancement (particularly for working class and rural poor learners) through HE and greater levels of equity
4. Equity must mean more than access into HE. Must incorporate equity of opportunity -environments in which learners, through academic support, excellent teaching and mentoring and other initiatives, genuinely have every chance of succeeding.
5. Equity, to be meaningful, is also ensuring that learners have access to quality education, and graduate with the relevant knowledge, competencies, skills and attributes that are required for any occupation and profession.
6. A new HE landscape must ensure equity and equity targets must be established as part of national planning around access to, opportunities within and outcomes of higher education. Must be coupled with tighter regimes of accountability.
7. Under apartheid, institutions for black South Africans and the technikons were disadvantaged. Developmental trajectories needed for institutions to enable them to undertake specified mandates within a new national framework
8. Finance required to achieve equity - but only a necessary condition and not a sufficient condition. A coherent framework for the more effective pursuit of equity is also essential.
9. Coverage and level of student financial aid should be increased and resources made available for academic support and development. Especially necessary to provide access to greater numbers of black learners, to black and women learners in particular areas of study and to learners from working class and rural poor backgrounds.
10. Should be a much greater incorporation of continuing education students than is the case at present. 'Recognition of Prior Learning' initiatives should be promoted to increase the intake of adult learners
SO WHERE TO?
1. The Minister has indicated:
I will publish a national plan, which will contain my Ministry’s comprehensive proposals for the shape and size of the HE system. The plan, which I shall take to Cabinet, will be linked to ongoing processes of institutional planning and to implementation time frameworks.
2 As part of national planning, an iterative process between the Minister and institutions around the reconfiguration of the system, combination and the mandates of institutions
3. Proposals around the 4-year degree (2+2 or otherwise) to the CHE Academic Policy TT and CHE-convened JIP
4. Funding issues to the DoE Reference Group
5. Concerted building of a national quality assurance system
6. Mobilisation of public, international donor and private sector funds for key strategic interventions - especially building a national quality assurance system
7. Human resources required for effective steering and careful planning and implementation - without these reconfiguration and achievement of a new institutional landscape not possible.
8. Report is a contribution to activities of national planning, the development of a national
- plan by the Department of Education, and the production of three-year plans by public higher education institutions.
1. Problems and weaknesses of the higher education system will not disappear on their own, or be overcome by institutions on their own, or be overcome through finance alone. Must be confronted and resolved in a systemic way -
Requires reconfiguration of the present system and the creation of new landscape.
Entails extensive, integrated, iterative processes of national planning as well as multiple co-ordinated interventions and initiatives.
Requires political will, sustained commitment and the courage to change at system and institutional level.
2. FOUR options
· Stay as we are - disastrous consequences
· More money as the solution
· The core of what the Report advocates (with smoothing over of whatever rough edges there may be)
· The core of what the Report advocates and more money (First Prize!)
3. Do not want to claim that Report is the last word, or perfect or flawless. It is as perfect as can be a product of just over four months of vigorous and passionate engagement.
4. We have a historic opportunity to reconfigure the HE system in a principled and imaginative way, more suited to the needs of a democracy and all its citizens in contrast to the irrational and exclusionary imperatives that shaped large parts of the current system.
5. Achievement of equity, development, justice and democracy in South Africa requires academics and HE institutions to become powerhouses of knowledge production and knowledge dissemination and diffusion, and of the formation of new generations of thinkers and actors.
6. We displayed remarkable intellectual honesty, ingenuity, creativity, inventiveness, strategic and tactical acumen, stolid courage and purpose to be rid of tyranny and to fashion our democracy.
7 We need to rediscover and reawaken these abilities and aptitudes. And we need to harness them to now think, fashion and innovate the technologies, instruments, mechanisms and processes of transformation towards a HE system that is progressively characterised by equity, quality, responsiveness to economic and social development needs, and effective and efficient provision and management.
MEMORANDUM TO THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION (NATIONAL ASSEMBLY) ON THE CHE SIZE AND SHAPE TASK TEAM REPORT, TOWARDS A NEW HIGHER EDUCATION LANDSCAPE:MEETING THE EQUITY, QUALITY AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IMPERATIVES OF SOUTH AFRICA IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY
12 SEPTEMBER 2000
During late January 2000, the Minister of Education requested the Council on Higher Education (CHE) to provide him with a set of concrete proposals on the shape and size of the higher education system and not a set of general principles which serve as guidelines for restructuring. I cannot over-emphasise the importance of the point. Until and unless we reach finality on institutional restructuring, we cannot take action and put in place the steps necessary to ensure the long-term affordability and sustainability of the higher education system.
The CHE was requested to conduct an overarching exercise designed to put strategies Into place to ensure that our higher education system is indeed on the road to the 21st century'.
To respond to this request the CHE established a Size and Shape Task Team. Its expert members were drawn from labour, business, universities and technikons, the Department of Education and the CHE itself.
GOALS AND VALUES
The Task Team's point of departure has been the Education White Paper 3:A Programme for the Transformation of Higher Education 1997. It is the goals and purposes that the White Paper advances for higher education, and its core principles and values, such as equity and redress. quality, development, effectiveness and efficiency, that has guided the Task Team and informs its Report. The Task Team also has a common commitment to transforming higher education so that it is 'responsive to the needs of students of all ages and the intellectual challenges of the 21st century.. It shares a passionate belief in the vital importance of higher education to democracy, social justice and the economic and social development of this country.
Equity is a defining imperative of the reconfiguration proposals of the Task Team. The achievement of equity is compromised by inefficiencies, the lack of effectiveness, and shortcomings in quality. Equity targets must be established as part of national planning around access to, opportunities within, and outcomes of higher education.
Equity should mean more than access into higher education. It must incorporate equity of opportunity environments in which learners, through academic support, excellent teaching and mentoring and other initiatives, genuinely have every chance of succeeding. Equity, to be meaningful, is also ensuring that learners have access to quality education, and graduate with the relevant knowledge, competencies, skills and attributes that are required for any occupation and profession.
Finance is required to achieve equity. While finance is a necessary condition it is not a sufficient condition. A coherent framework for the more effective pursuit of equity is also essential. Such a framework must look forward towards the 21st century but also recognise the inequities of the past. It must encompass possibilities of enhancing redress for historically and socially disadvantaged social groups through unhinging institutions from their past and setting them on new roads to development in accordance with social needs.
THE TASK TEAM REPORT
The Task Team advances concrete proposals on the creation of a new higher education landscape and the reconfiguration of institutions. The proposals on reconfiguration and combination enable the creation of a higher education system that is geared towards delivering equity through the effective functioning of all sectors of the system. The Task Team also recommends certain issues for further investigation.
The Task Team Report:
· Seeks to institutionalise the principles and values of the White Paper in order to realise its social and educational goals. The overall objective is the development of a higher education system which delivers effective and efficient provision and is based on equity, quality and excellence, responsiveness, and good governance and management
· Points to a historic opportunity to reconfigure the higher education system in a principled and imaginative way, more suited to the needs of a democracy and all its citizens in contrast to the irrational and exclusionary imperatives that shaped large parts of the current system
· Provides a framework and foundation for making rational the present incoherent, wasteful and uncoordinated higher education system, enabling significant improvements in quality and equity and ensuring that the knowledge and human resource needs of a developing democracy are effectively realised
· Recommends that the present system should be reconfigured as a differentiated and diverse system so that there can be effective responses from institutions to the varied social needs of the country
· Recommends that in a new reconfigured system, institutions should have a range of mandates (principal orientations and core foci) and pursue coherent and more explicitly defined educational and social purposes with respect to the production of knowledge and successful graduates
· Recommends that these mandates define institutions as:
1. Institutions which constitute the bedrock of the higher education system. The orientation and focus of these institutions would be:
· quality undergraduate programmes
· limited postgraduate programmes up to a taught Masters level
· research related to curriculum. learning and teaching with a view to application.
2. Institutions whose orientation and focus is
· quality undergraduate programmes
· comprehensive postgraduate taught and research programmes up to the Doctoral level
· extensive research capabilities (basic. applied. strategic and developmental) across a broad range of areas.
3. Institutions whose orientation and focus is
· quality undergraduate programmes
· extensive postgraduate taught and research programmes up to the Masters level
· selective postgraduate taught and research programmes up to the Doctoral level
· select areas of research (basic, applied, strategic and development).
4. An institution whose orientation and focus is dedicated distance education.
5. Private higher education institutions.
· Stresses that the Minister must be mindful that under apartheid, institutions designated for black South Africans and the technikons were disadvantaged in different ways. The Task Team's reconfiguration proposals makes possible developmental trajectories for institutions to enable them to undertake specified mandates within a new national framework
· Advocates that there should be no closure of institutions but that the absolute number of institutions should be reduced through combination
· Argues that combination offers the opportunity for creating a more responsive higher education landscape than that which is a legacy of apartheid, particularly in relation to increasing the participation rates of African and Coloured learners, and mature learners
· Provides examples of possible combinations for illustrative purposes
· Strongly recommends that the Minister should investigate the full range of possibilities for combinations, and should also be open to compelling combination possibilities that may emerge from the iterative national planning process
· Proposes that as part of national planning and the development of a national plan, there should be an iterative process between the Minister and institutions around the reconfiguration of the system, combination and the mandates of institutions
· Emphasises that the success of reconfiguration will a require the setting of nationally negotiated priorities and targets, as well as monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to track progress in their achievement
· Urges that the current levels of public funding of higher education should be maintained
· Highlights that without the mobilisation of public, international donor and private sector funds for key strategic interventions, the achievement of a new institutional landscape will not be possible
A range of proposals and recommendations around reconfiguring the system, prerequisites for successful reconfiguration and combination, the process of creating a new differentiated and diverse landscape, distance education, funding, and a number of other issues are also advanced in the Report.
THE REPORT AND NATIONAL PLANNING
The Task Team views its Report to be a contribution to the overall activities of national planning, the development of a national plan by the Department of Education, and the production of three-year plans by public higher education institutions. Decisions on reconfiguration should become part of the national plan. The proposals on the reconfiguration of the system. on combination and on nationally agreed targets will give a new shape to higher education. The proposals on participation rates, public sector enrolments, increasing access for disadvantaged social groups and mature learners, and on reducing the overall number of institutions will impact on the size of the system.
The Task Team is convinced that the problems and weaknesses of the South African higher education system that it points to in the Report will not disappear on their own or be overcome by institutions on their own. They must be confronted and overcome in a systemic way. This will require the reconfiguration of the present system and the creation of a new higher education landscape. It will entail extensive, integrated, iterative national planning as well as multiple co-ordinated interventions and initiatives. It will also require political will, sustained commitment and the courage to change at system and institutional level.
The Task Team is adamant that no public institution should believe that it is exempt from the imperative of system wide reconfiguration. from the need to change fundamentally, and from contributing to the achievement of a new higher education landscape. No higher education institution can assume that its track record with respect to equity, quality, social responsiveness and effectiveness and efficiency is beyond dispute and self evident. Much remains to be achieved by institutions to advance new social goals and to take us beyond the distinctions between historically advantaged and historically disadvantaged.
THE ROLE OF THE PRINT MEDIA IN EDUCATION DIVISION IN SOUTH AFRICA
1. WHAT IS PRINT MEDIA IN EDUCATION (PMIE)?
Print Media in Education, is a world-wide programme whereby newspapers and magazines are used to promote education in school classrooms.
In most overseas countries newspaper-in-education programmes (NIE) dominate while magazines play a secondary educational role. In South Africa this is also the case, although we have several magazines which are increasingly playing an important educational role.
2. ORIGIN OF NIE AND MAGAZINES-IN-EDUCATION
In 1991 the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) established a Newspapers-in-Education Division based in Paris. After a modest beginning the programme spread rapidly and at present some 38 countries have formal NIE projects in place.
In 1994, Print Media SA established a non profit organization, the Print Media in Education Division, to promote the use of newspapers and magazines in schools. In 1996 Dr Jeff Mathews was appointed Manager of the Division with the specific brief of helping to assist educational transformation in South Africa through promoting the use of print media in schools. (see Appendix 1)
3. THE MISSION OF THE PMIE DIVISION
A major goal is to support Curriculum 2005 by demonstrating to teachers and learners how newspapers and magazines can assist the learning process.
There is also a focus on promoting literacy and fighting a-literacy (Those who can read but choose not to).
The Division works in partnership with government departments, NGOs, publishing companies and like-minded organizations to realise its goals. (see Appendix 2)
4. WHY USE NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES IN OUR CLASSROOMS?
a) Most schools lack sufficient written resources.
It is a well-known fact that because over 90% of the education budget is spent on salaries, very little money is left over to supply schools with textbooks and other written resources.
b) Newspapers and magazines are useful in promoting the new Curriculum because:
- They provide a rounded education in that they cover all the learning areas in the curriculum and much more;
- They contain news and features on politics, sport, consumer issues, education, business, the weather, advertising, environmental details, community issues and so on;
- They entertain and inform at the same time and the activity method which is used promotes learner participation;
- They are the only "textbooks" that are completely consumable instructional tools.
They can be cut up, marked on, separated, torn and recycled;
- They are ideal for focusing on values and appropriate attitudes;
- Their use creates a bridge between the ‘real world’ outside and the classroom because they are up-to-date and link closely with the lives of people in the community;
- They offer on-going education for life. (see Appendices 3,4,9)
c) Newspapers and magazines promote literacy
Research has demonstrated that if young people and adults are encouraged to read newspapers and magazines, it often leads to a life-long habit of reading all sorts of other printed material too.
Newspapers and magazines are relatively inexpensive and are therefore particularly useful in sparking off a passion for reading. One of our products, the Reading Passport, is particularly useful in achieving this. Many companies in South Africa are now sponsoring the cost of supplying newspapers to previously disadvantaged schools.
e) Newspapers and magazines are affordable
Textbooks are very expensive and in schools where they are absent or out-of-date, newspapers and magazines can fill the gap. They can also be used to supplement textbooks but are not intended to replace the traditional textbook.
e) Fighting a-literacy
Neil Postman, the author of "Amusing ourselves to death", has warned that technology and particularly television, is the main cause of a-literacy. He equates the influence of television to Aldous Huxley’s "Brave New World" in which people come to love technology (like television), which undo their capacities to think. Huxley feared that what we love, will ruin us. Postman asserts that "television has only one voice, and that is the voice of entertainment". However, we are now learning to synergise with the electronic media in meaningful joint initiatives.
A-literacy is not only confined to countries like South Africa but is a world-wide trend. The USA, a world power and economic giant, is also suffering from the scourge. The Newspaper Association of America recently launched a massive reading campaign to address the problem of a-literacy.
Recent research conducted by Print Media SA has revealed a frightening scenario in our country. People of all races, who hold senior managerial positions were canvassed. The following disturbing facts emerged:
- Although 100% of the people canvassed watch television, only 55% of them read a daily newspaper, 50% a book and 22% a consumer magazine;
- Under 50% of the sample (people who hold senior positions), actually write a letter or report;
- 20% of these people in senior positions are a-literate and can be described as insecure, demoralized, and unable to cope with day-to-day living.
Print Media SA supports the decision of the government to declare 2001 the "Year of the Reader" in South Africa.
f) Newspapers and magazines educate holistically
If educators are trained correctly in the use of newspapers and magazines for educational purposes, there is little doubt that they offer a very broad, rounded education. Early in the 19th Century, Thomas Jefferson asserted that "The press is the best instrument for enlightening the mind of man, and improving him as a rational, moral and social being."
His words are particularly relevant in a new democracy such as ours.
5. ACHIEVEMENTS OF THE PMIE DIVISION
a) Teacher Workshops
The PMIE Division works in partnership with newspaper and magazine companies to organise workshops where the methodology is presented to teachers. Many of these workshops are partly sponsored by companies.(see Appendix 5)
The results of these workshops, and of the advice given to print companies, has been very encouraging. As far as newspapers are concerned, of the 30 major urban dailies and weeklies, over 20 of them have launched formal NIE projects and several others are planning to do so. A notable success story is the Sunday Times "ReadRIGHT" supplement which last year won the World Young Reader Award for the project which did the most to promote reading in the world. The Sowetan’s nation building project and educational supplements have been extremely successful.
Independent Newspapers has played an important role in training teachers and providing previously disadvantaged schools with free newspapers. Prominent Afrikaans newspapers like Die Burger and Beeld have expanded on their already successful NIE projects. In the Eastern Cape The Evening Post and Daily Dispatch have committed themselves to exciting long-term programmes. Other newspapers like the Diamond Fields Advertiser, Mail and Guardian, Pretoria News, City Press and Natal Witness are performing sterling NIE work.
One of the most exciting NIE developments in South Africa has been the growth in NIE projects amongst Community Newspapers countrywide. Some two years ago two of these newspapers were running viable NIE projects and now the number has grown to 14 and several more are eager to begin projects.
Magazines have also played a valuable role in promoting education and schools have used a range of titles to promote the new curriculum. However, there is still vast potential to expand on magazine-in-education activities.
b) Teacher guides
The PMIE Division has, in partnership with the Media in Education Trust, produced a number of excellent teacher guides to demonstrate to teachers how newspapers and magazines can be used to promote Curriculum 2005.
The first two guides cover the Foundation and Intermediate Phases while the third one entitled "Ready to Read" is suitable for Grades 0 and 1.
Many teachers in South Africa have already used the first two guides while "Ready to Read" has just been developed and will be available soon. (see Appendices 6,7 and 8)
c) Reading and CV Passports
The Reading Passport, developed by a Dutch expert, is the most successful NIE project launched worldwide. Print Media SA has bought the rights to adapt it so the South African context and a number of newspapers have already piloted the project.
The CV Passport, aimed at Grades 11 and 12, prepares learners for the world of work and has been made available to newspaper companies.
d) Resource Packs to previously disadvantaged schools
We have been collaborating with book publishers in various projects, the most important being to supply poorly resourced schools with sponsored packs of reading materials. The project was successfully piloted in KwaZulu-Natal last year and is being expanded in 2000.
e) Democracy building project
We are committed to promoting democratic values and are working on partnership with newspapers and the MIE Trust to pilot projects in schools. The results of this pilot project will be presented at the International NIE Conference in South Africa in 2001.
f) Conferences, seminars and workshops to train co-ordinators.
Most newspaper companies in South Africa have appointed their own co-ordinators to drive education projects. The PMIE Division devotes a great deal of time to advising co-ordinators on recent educational trends and on good NIE ideas from overseas which could be adapted to suit South African conditions and circumstances. Magazine companies, which generally do not have dedicated co-ordinators to drive projects, are also included in guidance and training.
In addition to frequent seminars and workshops, an annual conference for newspaper and magazine PMIE people is organized where new ideas are presented and networking occurs. South Africa has been accorded the honour of hosting the 4th International NIE Conference in September 2001. It is expected that delegates from over 30 countries will attend the conference in Cape Town.
We work with a number of departments, organizations, institutions and NGOs to promote print media in education. Over the past few years we have worked closely with the Media in Education Trust on a number of initiatives. We also have established good relations with READ, Project Literacy, the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism, Joint Education Trust, UNESCO, WAN and tertiary institutions. (see Appendix 10)
We also liaise closely with the Department of National Education and with Provincial Education Departments. Many officials from Provincial Education Departments have attended our teacher workshops and given invaluable support to these initiatives. We have recently established closer relations with Mondi and Sappi and hope to work together with them on various educational initiatives.
h) Print Development Unit
Print Media SA has established a unit to facilitate the growth of economically sustainable emerging print media enterprises. The intention is that once these new enterprises are up and running the PMIE Division will help them launch viable education projects. Initial planning has taken place and projects should start early in 2001.
i)African Renaissance for print
In 1998, an African NIE Conference, attended by 7 countries, was held in Durban to spread print media-in-education initiatives across the continent. This was highly successful and since that time several of these countries, notably Ghana, Kenya and Uganda have embarked on NIE projects. It is expected that delegates from a good number of African countries will attend the International NIE Conference in Cape Town next year.
j) Collaboration with radio and television stations
Print Media has reacted positively to the potential threat posed by the recent revolution in technology by working together with the electronic media. Major media corporates in South Africa are investing millions of rands in spreads of linked media including TV and radio broadcasting, Internet services and telecommunications networks. Times Media (TML) and Nasionale Pers (Naspers), established print publishers have invested in Internet publishing. TML launched I-Net Bridge as a business information service and Naspers established the 24.com website.
After initial fears posed by the spread of electronic media, we now believe that print media can derive important spin-offs from the transient nature of electronic systems. It is clear that newspapers and magazines are as much part of the post-modern media mix as TV and mobile phones. Print back-up is needed for television and radio educational programmes so that learners can study the material at a later stage. Print is drawing people to the Internet and vice versa.
k) International links
Print Media SA belongs to the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and PMIE Manager, Jeff Mathews is a member of the International NIE Committee. He attends committee meetings in Paris once a year and has established links with many of the 38 countries which have formal NIE programmes in place. Last year a prominent WAN member, who was responsible for introducing the NIE concept to South Africa in the early 1990’s, rated our programmes in the top ten in the world! Many useful print media in education ideas have been gleaned from the success of projects in "developed" and "developing" countries and adapted to suit the South African scenario.
l) PMIE Newsletter
Our newsletter which contains news and ideas from overseas and in South Africa, has proved a valuable source of information for PMIE co-ordinators, government departments, NGOs, newspaper and magazine editors and marketers, and teachers. Copies are also posted to relevant people and institutions overseas.
6. THE ROAD AHEAD
a) The Year of the Reader, 2001
We intend to work closely with our partners in promoting the laudable initiative to declare 2001 the "Year of the Reader" in South Africa. Our newspaper and magazines members have already been informed of the government’s initiative to focus on reading and will support the initiative.
b) 4th International NIE Conference in South Africa
We are hosting the International NIE Conference in Cape Town from 16 to 18 September 2001. The theme of the conference is "Readers: The New Generation", which ties in well with the national focus on reading next year.
c) Improving distribution of resources to schools
We are working with the Media in Education Trust and a host of other partners on a pilot project in KwaZulu-Natal to improve the distribution of a wide range of printed materials to schools in that province. If this is successful it will serve as a model for other provinces.
d) Teaching and learning materials
We will continue to produce guidebooks and resources which teachers can use to promote the new curriculum. We have plans to produce the following:
Learning through : Sport
" : Environment
" : Advertising
e) Resource packs
We intend to expand on our project to provide packs of guidebooks and reading materials to previously disadvantaged schools. The success of this project depends on the amount of sponsorships we can obtain from donors.
f) Encouraging our members to expand their PMIE projects
The success of the PMIE Division depends to a large extent on the willingness of newspaper and magazines companies to invest in relevant projects. Currently millions of rands are invested by our members in a great number of projects ranging from workshops for teachers to exciting competitions, supplements, articles and printed guides. We will continue to persuade our members that these projects are not only good for the future of our country but for their publications too.
Jeff Mathews (Dr)
Manager: PMIE Division
[PMG Ed. Note: Appendices not included]