The Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) made a joint presentation on the Implementation of Measures to Improve Initial Teacher Education Programmes and Continuing Professional Teacher Development. There are four key outputs of the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for teacher education and development. The first three outputs were the responsibility of DBE and the fourth output was the responsibility of DHET. There is a strong interdependency between DBE and DHET for teacher education and teaching. Quality was at the heart of teacher education. Quality was influenced by the size, shape and substance of the teacher education system.
The Portfolio Committee was referred to the presentation, “Measures Taken to Improve Initial Teacher Education”, which was made on 3 November 2015 and which was circulated again for information. Teacher education has been reviewed extensively since 2007. These reviews have highlighted several issues which are being addressed. The net effect of these is that, in many cases, teacher education students do not transition successfully into the full role as teachers. Enrolments for initial teacher education at universities increased from 35 275 in 2008 to 116 201 in 2015.
In discussion, Members asked how many students enrol and then drop out of the teacher training system; what DBE was doing to repair the disconnect between theory and practice; why only 7% of principals have undergone competency testing in 2016 and these were all from one province, the Western Cape; what was being done with provinces that had not implemented competency testing of principals; how student protests would affect the supply of teachers for the next academic year; expressed concern about the domination of the unions in the system; why teaching time was being taken up by union meetings; why only three universities were targeted for inclusive education and could this capacity be broadened; and how high achievers in mathematics and science could be attracted to become teachers.
DBE had engaged DHET on the perception that universities are too theoretical. DBE has subscribed to the reopening of some teacher training colleges, while still attached to universities. The Director General of DBE had issued a directive that all provinces had to implement competency training for principals. The question on the capacity of South African Council For Educators (SACE) was broader than the involvement of unions. SACE had to be beefed up so that it could meet its statutory obligations. There has been a directive that all union meetings had to happen after teaching hours. Teacher training, memorial services and union meetings should not take up teaching time. There was a high teacher training dropout rate and students were taking longer to complete the qualification. The higher education system is inefficient. Teacher education have been under review since 2007. In the early years, the focus was on increasing recruitment. The focus now has changed to quality. Student protests would impact on the supply of teachers if no graduates emerged out of the system. This would only be known once universities had assessed the impact of the protests. The number of special needs education providers will be expanded. Former teacher training colleges will be prioritized if need for training facilities are identified.
The Chairperson welcomed both Departments and also the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and another member of that Portfolio Committee.
Initial Teacher Education Programmes and Continuing Professional Teacher Development
Mr Enoch Rabotapi, Acting Chief Director: Education Human Resources Development, Department of Basic Education (DBE), said this a joint presentation on behalf of DBE and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). He indicated that while many teachers are very qualified the question centred on whether they were appropriately qualified.
Mr Rabotapi pointed out that there were four key outputs of the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development:
a) Individual and systemic teacher development needs are identified and addressed;
b) Increased numbers of high achievers are attracted into teaching;
c) Teacher support is enhanced at a local level; and
d) An expanded and accessible formal teacher education system is established.
The first three outputs were the responsibility of DBE and the fourth output was the responsibility of DHET.
Dr Whitfield Green, Chief Director: Teaching and Learning Development, DHET, indicated that there was a strong interdependency between DBE and DHET for teacher education. Quality was at the heart of teacher education. Quality was influenced by the size, shape and substance of the teacher education system. He referred the Committee to the presentation, “Measures Taken to Improve Initial Teacher Education”, which was made on 3 November 2015 and which was circulated again for information.
Dr Green reported that teacher education has been reviewed extensively since 2007. These reviews have highlighted several issues which are being addressed. The net effect of these is that, in many cases, teacher education students do not transition successfully into the full role of teacher. Progress in addressing the issues was reported on 3 November 2015.
Dr Green said that there is an interest in teacher education. Enrolments for initial teacher education at universities increased from 35 275 in 2008 to 116 201 in 2015.
Dr Green reported that the Teaching and Learning Development Capacity Improvement Programme (T&LDCIP) was a specific intervention to improve primary mathematics, primary literacy, and inclusive and special needs teacher education at universities. The four main thrusts of the programme will strengthen university capacity for:
a) Early Childhood Development (ECD) educator development;
b) Primary teacher education;
c) Inclusive and special needs teacher education; and
d) Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Community Education and Training (CET) college lecturer education.
He indicated that project plans had been developed and approved by the Director-General (DG). National meetings were held to bring universities on board. Project teams had been established. Proposals were developed, finalized and approved. The first tranche of funds was transferred to participating universities. The first project progress reports were due at the end of the financial year.
Mr Rabotapi said that questions had been asked about the quality of students recruited to the teaching profession. To address this community-based recruitment has been implemented. There is a policy on screening and identification which aims to bring about standardisation on recruitment.
Mr Rabotapi reported that an Orientation Booklet for new teachers and newly appointed school managers has been developed. A process to develop and write professional practice standards has been initiated
Mr Rabotapi highlighted issues which had been identified with principals. These included the appointment of incompetent candidates as principals. The Policy on the South African Standard for Principals was promulgated on 15 March 2016. The framework on the induction of newly appointed principals had been developed. The training of principals on curriculum management took place in six provinces.
Mr Rabotapi said that concerns about teacher development programmes included the quality of programmes, the impact of programmes, planning and funding for teacher development programmes, and time for teacher development. The use of data is being strengthened to inform planning of teacher development programmes. The use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is being maximized.
Mr Rabotapi indicated that there are not enough suitably qualified Grade R teachers. The target is to upgrade all Grade R teachers who do not have the required qualifications, by 2019. A lot has been done regarding the culture of reading. Despite these interventions, reading remains a challenge.
Mr Rabotapi said that pre- and post-testing were being implemented. DBE was working with the South African Council for Educators (SACE) to develop instruments to test the quality of programmes. Management was key. Teachers had to be utilised in areas where they had competency. Efforts were made to ensure that there was behavioural changes in the classroom after training.
Mr G Davis (DA) complained that the presenters left the Committee with little time to deliberate on the presentation. The documents were received in advance and it was therefore a complete waste of time for the officials to read from the presentation since members had already had an opportunity to read the presentation.
Mr Davis wanted to know why the slide on trends in initial teacher education was not included in the presentation that was made today since it was included in the presentation that was sent via email. He wanted an explanation for the decline in teacher training enrolments. He asked whether there were dropouts in the system? How many enrol and then drop out of the system? In what ways are there variances in quality of teacher training programmes? Which universities are performing and which are not performing? What is DBE doing to repair the disconnect between theory and practice? What is DBE’s view on teacher training colleges? Could bringing back teacher training colleges contribute towards repairing the disconnect between theory and practice? The Southern and East African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) IV report says that teacher performance was declining significantly over the same period that the system has been under reconstruction. Why has the system gone backwards? Is setting minimum requirements for teacher training programmes sufficient to address the question of quality? What is the status of the plan to license teachers? According to the Annual Report only 7% of principals have undergone competency testing in 2016. These were all from the Western Cape. What is being done with provinces that have not implemented competency testing of principals? Does DBE agree that SACE must be freed from union and political domination? How will student protests affect the supply of teachers for the next academic year? There are media reports that teaching time is being taken up by union meetings. How is this being balanced with time for teacher training?
Ms J Basson (ANC) wanted to know how it can be ensured that teachers were placed in line with their qualifications. Are teachers incentivized to improve their qualifications? Only three universities were targeted for inclusive education. Can this capacity be broadened? Who does the screening for community-based recruitment?
Ms D Van Der Walt (DA) said that it was sad to witness the decline of the infrastructure of former teacher training colleges. What will become of these institutions? Why are there such high targets for the implementation of ICT in schools? Are these targets realistic? Is there a plan in place for support by ICT specialists? How will the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) be used in school libraries? How will the target for Grade R teachers in every primary school be reached? Training of School Governing Bodies (SGB) is essential. Another issue is getting the right people to train to become teachers.
Ms H Boshoff (DA) wanted to know what the progress was with expanding training facilities. She agreed that three universities were too little to provide for inclusive education. The Funza Lushaka bursaries were not available for people who want to train for special needs education. What will DBE do to ensure that teachers who train for education for special needs are the right people? What are the requirements? In the presentation on special needs there was silence on physical disabilities, autism, and traumatic brain injury. How would those issues be addressed?
Mr H Khosa (ANC) asked what the plans were to avoid appointing incompetent principals. What plans were in place to support young principals who were already in the system? He said that high achievers in mathematics and science were not attracted to the teaching profession. How can such students be attracted to train as teachers? Is there sufficient time to practice reading in the classroom? The lack of sufficient time is compounded by the student-teacher ratio.
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) wanted to know what the content of teaching was in the universities. How much time was dedicated to teaching the content as opposed to teaching methodology? Is the Honours degree in Management equivalent to the Advanced Diploma in Leadership? When will the Quality Management System (QMS) start? What will be the role of the teacher centres? Is a primary school teacher with a Diploma qualified to teach Grade R?
Ms C September (ANC) asked what plans are in place for institutions other than universities to address the needs. Why is Telkom not mentioned in the ICT programme? Is there a funding problem with supplying teachers with devices? Why is there not more emphasis on excellence that goes together with quality? There is too much emphasis placed on the theoretical framework and not enough on practice.
The Chairperson suggested that there be more discussion at a future time about the reopening of teacher training colleges. A more fundamental question is whether the current programmes speak to the needs that are out there as opposed to where they are being offered. Has enough been done to improve mathematics and science education? What happened about the rollout of laptops to teachers? What is the view on teacher training being done through distance learning?
Mr C Kekana (ANC) wanted to know whether the country’s economic policies were guiding the focus of teacher training and development. Was human capital being developed to combat poverty?
Mr Rabotapi said that the focus of teacher training and development should be on the quality that is required in teachers rather than where the attributes are attained and the reopening of teacher training colleges. There is a perception that universities are too theoretical. DBE has engaged DHET on this matter. DBE has subscribed to the reopening of some teacher training colleges, while still attached to universities. The plan to license teachers is on track.
Mr Rabotapi added that the DG issued a directive that all provinces must implement competency training for principals. There were challenges from unions. DBE is currently engaging with unions on this matter. Parallel to this process, DBE is engaging a service provider to ensure that provinces are ready to comply when the time comes.
Mr Rabotapi responded that the question on the capacity of SACE is broader than the involvement of unions. SACE had to be beefed up so that it could meet its statutory obligations. There has been a directive that all union meetings had to happen after teaching hours. Teacher training, memorial services and union meetings should not take up teaching time.
Mr Rabotapi said that it is a challenge to place teachers appropriately since there are shortages in some schools. This means that in some areas teachers cannot be placed in line with their competencies. The SACE points system had been used to incentivize the professionalization of teaching. But more had to be done. Incentives cannot be limited to money. Teachers who are recruited through community-based recruitment must still meet the minimum requirements and screening criteria.
Dr Green indicated that the trends in teacher education report has been made public since 2011. The missing slide can be made available to the Portfolio Committee. The reasons for decline in postgraduate studies is because of a decision to steer the system to focus on initial teacher education. The introduction of the new qualifications framework also impacted on the figures. There is a high dropout rate and students taking longer to complete their qualifications. The higher education system is inefficient. There is not an objective measure to rank universities. The JET education research highlighted some of the issues with universities. The Council on Higher Education (CHE) assessment is also useful to provide a more objective measure. DHET has expanded teacher training programmes to three sites at former teacher training colleges in rural areas. All distance education programmes have a practical component. Teacher education has been under review since 2007. In the early years, the focus was on increasing recruitment. The focus now has changed to quality.
Dr Green said that student protests will impact on the supply of teachers if no graduates emerge out of the system. This will only be known once universities have addressed the impact of the protests. The number of special needs education providers will be expanded. Former teacher training colleges will be prioritized if needs for training facilities are identified.
Mr Gerrit Coetzee, Director: Initial Teacher Education, DBE, reported that the Funza Lushaka bursary programme has had to adapt to make it part of a strategy to address the shape of the schooling system. The key focus areas have been mathematics, science and accounting in the last four to five years.
Mr Rabotapi said that the Advanced Diploma is a minimum requirement for principals. The Honours programme is more general and at a higher level. DBE was waiting for the Minister’s approval for the implementation of the Quality Management System. The teacher development institutes must be staffed by the appropriate people. The institutes work through the teacher centres. The centres are access points for delivery of material developed at the institutes. Teachers with a Diploma in Grade R can only teach a Grade R class.
Mr Rabotapi reported that Telkom was very involved in Operation Phakisa. One of its key responsibilities was to ensure that connectivity was expanded. Throwing resources at underperforming schools do not necessarily bring about change. Another unit was dealing with the rollout of laptops. A report would be obtained from them. The strategy of the practice of bringing own devices is to ensure that teachers use what they already have and with what they are familiar as opposed to waiting for DBE to provide equipment.
The Chairperson commented that there was a report that there has been a leak of a mathematics paper in the Giyani and Mopani districts in Limpopo. The matter was being investigated.
The Chairperson thanked the two Departments for the presentation. She asked that the researchers should come up with a concept paper to indicate what it is that can be fed back to the two Departments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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