The Committee requested a progress report on the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), even though the Department of Basic Education had not as yet done a full evaluation.
DBE explained the rationale for CAPS which was introduced progressively between 2012 and 2014. Progress has taken place in respect of continuous teacher development, a National Catalogue and Sector Plan was developed and implemented to provide all teachers and learners with Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM). English as a First Additional Language was introduced in Grade One. DBE workbooks in Languages and Mathematics were developed and distributed to all Grade R to 9 classes. Evidence of the success of CAPS can be seen in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2015 where South Africa showed the largest improvement: 87 points in Mathematics and 90 points in Science. Challenges have been tracked via relevant committees, social media and submissions. Some challenges remain persistent, including content overload and curriculum coverage, assessment, and addressing special needs. Plans to deal with the challenges have been divided into short term, medium term and medium to long term plans.
The Committee was pleased with the work of DBE and posed 33 questions to the presenter. Decolonisation, mother tongue instruction, History as a compulsory subject on offer, and special needs learners received particular attention.
In its briefing on the Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL), DBE explained that it is a strategy, not a policy. IIAL is intended to strengthen the use of African languages at a home language level and improving proficiency in, and access to, previously marginalised African languages in order to promote social cohesion. All learners should offer at least one previously marginalised official African language as part of their curriculum requirement, although IIAL assessment is not for progression purposes. Currently 3 558 schools are not offering an indigenous language. DBE had provided support by means of the Foundation Phase Second Additional Language (SAL) Toolkit comprising a full set of LTSM to facilitate learning and teaching. Challenges include teacher provisioning and budgetary constraints, the attitude towards African languages and distance between schools for itinerant teachers. The Committee strongly supported IIAL.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee was looking for a progress report on CAPS even though the Department had not yet done a full evaluation but it was necessary to know what was happening in the implementation of the new curriculum and what the challenges were for CAPS, and DBE’s future plans. On oversight visits the Committee gets feedback from teachers, so they can compare with the DBE report. The Committee wanted to know whether CAPS was working as it is important to get the education system working well.
Dr Suren Govender, DBE Chief Director: Curriculum, apologised for the absence of Dr Mamiki Maboya, Deputy-Director General for Curriculum at DBE, explaining that they had been monitoring in the Eastern Cape and she was held up by a flight delay.
Dr Govender explained that the curriculum in place in South African schools is the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) which was introduced in 2004 and the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) is one component of the curriculum. As a country, one must be reminded that the education sector has spent a considerable amount of time on curriculum development.
Rationale for Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS)
The challenges faced in the implementation of the National Curriculum Statement included overload and administrative burden; lack of clarity on what and how to teach and to assess, as well as learner underperformance in international and local assessments. Key areas investigated by a Ministerial Task Team in 2009 were curriculum policy and guideline documents and the transition between grades and phases. Assessment, particularly School Based Assessment (SBA) and Learning and Teaching Support Materials (LTSM), particularly textbooks, and teacher support and training for curriculum implementation were also reviewed.
Following the report by the task team, a single Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) was developed for every subject from Grade R to 12. CAPS indicated sequencing, pacing, content and assessment per subject, simplified assessment requirements, improved the quality and status of assessment by making the GET and FET phases consistent. A national catalogue of was developed, indicating approved CAPS-aligned LTSM per subject per grade. Exemplar question papers were developed and progression in grades 10 to 12 was regulated. The timeframe for the implementation of CAPS ran over a number of years from preparation in 2010 and 2011, introduction in Grades R to 3 and Grade 10 in 2012, in Grades 4 to 9 and Grade 11 in 2013 and in Grade 12 in 2014.
Progress in the implementation of CAPS
Continuous teacher development addressed new topics and challenging content. Guidance for School Based Assessment (SBA) and an item bank supports teachers with assessment tasks. A National Catalogue and Sector Plan were developed to provide all teachers and learners with LTSM. English as a First Additional Language (FAL) was introduced in Grade 1. DBE workbooks were developed for Grade R to 9 classes to strengthen Languages and Mathematics. The Maths, Science and Technology (MST) grant for teacher study now supports all MST subjects. Strategies have been introduced to promote access and inclusivity, including the Screening Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS) Policy for special needs learners and the implementation of Sign Language. Curricula have been developed for Technical Vocational, Technical Occupational and for Profoundly Intellectually Disabled learners. State owned textbooks for Grades 10 and 11 Mathematics and Physical Sciences have been developed under the label of Siyavula Textbooks.
In the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2015, South Africa showed the largest improvement: 87 points in Mathematics and 90 points in Science.
Emerging Challenges and Gaps
Challenges have been tracked via fully functional subject committees at national, provincial, district level, received by DBE via sms, twitter and submissions and via the Heads of Education (HEDCOM) sub-committee on curriculum.
Despite interventions some challenges remain persistent, including content overload and curriculum coverage. Teachers need training in the various aspects of formal assessment tasks, such as the use of cognitive levels, forms of assessment and weighting of assessment with regards to time and marks. The concept of teaching for mastery and not assessment is not fully understood. Accommodation and concessions for special needs learners needs further attention. The reading level of learners remains a cause for concern as does the development of 21st century skills.
Short Term Plans (2017)
Short term plans will see the specification of assessment tasks per subject according to number, weighting of time and mark allocation and the forms and type of assessment tasks. Cognitive levels and difficulty levels will be addressed. Examination guidelines have been developed. The lack of understanding and implementation of accommodation and concessions will receive attention. The new CAPS proposals have been packaged in a guideline document available on the DBE website and a document was released in January 2017. All teachers have met with their curriculum advisors in workshops and DBE is awaiting feedback from teachers before gazetting the policy in 2018.
Medium Term Plans (2018-2020)
Specific subjects will be addressed in the medium term, including mathematics in the Foundation Phase, Economic Management Sciences, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Computer Applications Technology (CAT) and Life Orientation. A Three Stream Model will extend the skills curriculum. The depth and breadth of content in the CAPS and inclusion of accommodation and concessions are another focus area. Teacher skills in the scaffolding of learning will be taught.
Long Term Plans (2020-2030)
Long term plans include a review of the proposal to make History a compulsory offering and the separation of Physical Science into two subjects, i.e. Chemistry and Physics, as is international practice. Subject specialisation in Grade 3 will be considered to facilitate the transition to Grade 4. Key to long term plans is the decolonisation of the CAPS by including the introduction of KiSwahili, Indigenous Knowledge systems and practices and plans to introduce mother tongue instruction in the Intermediate Phase and upwards.
There will be research into curriculum design and development and a multi-grade core curriculum. DBE intends to strengthen feedback on tracking learner performance by upgrading the computer management system (SASAMS) and revising the National Student Learning Assessment (NSLA) reporting tool. DBE will strengthen monitoring, evaluation and verification processes in 2017. Finally, it will be necessary to review school calendar days and compulsory teaching time.
The Chairperson thanked the Chief Director for the excellent and informative presentation.
Mr H Khosa (ANC) raised the timeframe for the implementation of mother tongue education. His particular concern was the need to start by preparing the teacher. As a former teacher himself, he could say that he did not have the concepts and vocabulary to deal with Maths and Science in mother tongue. He could not teach it in mother tongue. It is a challenge. Secondly, DBE also mentioned the workload, especially in the lower grades or Foundation Phase, and he referred particularly to schools in disadvantaged areas. As far as the teacher-pupil ratio was concerned, he was aware of schools in the rural areas where one teacher has about 60 pupils and of at least one school that has four classes with 60 learners in each. CAPS is a good policy but there are many challenges in the schools that the Committee has been visiting. The pupil-teacher ratio includes the principal, deputy principal and head of department and the school has to divide the number of pupils between all these people and so they have big classes but one principal was teaching 7 subjects and another had so many lessons that he could not do the principal’s work. Principals cannot do their work as they have a heavy teaching load. What he would like to see is a fair system where all schools have a lower number of pupils in the classroom. In the past, Grade One has had fewer assessments than Grade Two, and Grade Two’s had fewer than Grade Three’s but now all grades would have 16 assessment tasks and he was wondering whether the little ones would manage.
Ms N Mashabela (EFF) congratulated DBE on a good presentation and the excellent work done in implementing CAPS so that South Africa could have a good education system. She noted the many challenges in the provinces. Provincial reluctance to report is a problem. A particular concern was how slow learners were accommodated by CAPs as the teacher had to cover the curriculum and had to move on but pupils had not learned the work and teachers left behind slow learners. The provision of textbooks was another problem. How had DBE addressed this problem when implementing CAPS as there are children in the rural areas, especially, who share textbooks?
Ms C Majeke (UDM) congratulated the Department. She appreciated the long-term plans that the DBE has developed, but especially the plan to teach learners in their mother tongue. Learners have to begin to understand meaning before they begin to understand content but those learners who are studying in a language that is not their mother tongue are disadvantaged. They are assessed in the same way as learners who have been taught in their mother tongue so they are disadvantaged. How was DBE going to address workload, especially in the Foundation Phase? How is DBE going to deal with slow learners?
Mr G Davis (DA) noted that the Committee had met with Umalusi in 2016 and was informed that there was a significant upward adjustment to marks after the National Senior Certificate Examinations in 2015 and again in 2016. He wanted to know if CAPS is more difficult and that was the reason for the poorer performance, whether it was because it was the first-time CAPS was examined or whether there was some other reason for the adjustment of marks. Had all teachers been trained to implement CAPS, and if not, how many had not been trained? In the medium-term plan, pass requirements in the Senior Phase would be addressed and he needed clarification on the matter. Mr Davis queried the rationale for making History compulsory. He could not understand why it was so important as History might not have same usefulness for all pupils, for example those who wished to study Maths and Science. Mr Davis noted the reference to decolonising the curriculum which features in the DBE plans. He asked DBE for a definition of decolonisation and who the forces were that had colonised the curriculum in 2014 that there was now a need to decolonise it. As far as he understood, the curriculum was developed and implemented in the years since South Africa became a democracy so he was struggling to understand who had colonised the curriculum and why it was only being addressed at this stage. He reiterated the concern about concepts being translated in mother tongue and wanted to know whether there was actually a demand from the people and parents for mother tongue education. He noted that his visits to the communities show that people want their children to be taught in English. What study or research had been undertaken to determine how many people really want mother tongue education?
Mr T Khosa (ANC) prefaced his questions by emphasising that there is a real need for History. It is important that South Africans look at the past and where they have come from to shake themselves up for going forward. There can be no question that all pupils need to learn History. He asked if SIAS (Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support of special needs learners) and Sign language policies were being implemented and whether schools were being offered the necessary support. He queried the state owned textbooks and whether this project had been implemented and if the textbooks were supporting the new CAPS. On districts, he asked if they used the SAMS (South African Management System) programmes and whether SAMS was going to be compulsory for all SA schools. Looking at the age group of educators, particularly those teaching Grades One, Two and Three, the system is full of teachers who will be exiting and he wanted to know whether the lower grades were going to cope as a system when these teachers retired. Checking on the 16 assessment tasks for Grades One, Two and Three, there was a question of whether those learners were coping as in the previous system, the tasks in Grade One had small weight.
Ms J Basson (ANC) thanked DBE for the good work that has been done as she has the hope that all children will be able to be taught in their mother tongue. She was a product of teaching in her mother tongue in the Foundation Phase and she learnt Maths well, even coping with Maths in English when she moved on at school and is really happy that all learners will have that experience. She expressed a concern about the textbooks, asking if the textbooks were going to be common across the country or continent, especially for external examination of learning areas. One common textbook per learning area is essential for teaching the curriculum. She welcomed the idea of making History compulsory because a nation not knowing its background is a lost nation. There is much talk of the lost generation but without a knowledge of our history, the country would be lost. The country cannot go forward if it does not know what happened in its past.
Ms H Boshoff (DA) noted that braille remained a problematic area, especially as there are virtually no textbooks for blind and deaf pupils. There are not enough braille textbooks nor are there facilities to print in braille. Large print textbooks for pupils with restricted vision are not supplied and so these children are disadvantaged and cannot benefit from CAPS. It is found that in full service schools, these children are pushed to the back and do not progress. Ms Boshoff enquired whether there were enough teachers to teach Chemistry and Physics if the Department split Physical Science into two subjects. There seems to be a shortage of Mathematics and Science teachers already.
Mr L Ntshayisa (AIC) asked if there had there been any consultation to ensure that teachers implement the new CAPS as laid out in the Guideline documents because it is only a guideline and not policy as yet. Was proper implementation of CAPS monitored by all Provincial Education Departments (PEDs)? Mr Ntshayisa was appreciative of the work as far as the long-term plan goes - the compulsory study of History is very good. The long-term strategy is admirable but what is DBE doing about the present time – is there any preparation for human resources?
The Chairperson was happy when DBE talked of overload of teachers in CAPS because there was such an outcry from teachers and schools about this overload. She expressed happiness about the Guidelines ensuring that assessment tasks are reduced in the Foundation Phase. It is problematic that these are just Guidelines because the schools can take it or leave it. She agreed that Grade 1 assessment tasks must be focussed so 16 tasks in all grades in the Foundation Phase are okay but the weight and cognitive levels of tasks will differ according to the grade. Regarding assessment knowledge on the side of teachers, there is a need for teacher development because weighting has been problematic. The question is how one makes teachers understand weighting and cognitive levels of assessment tasks.
Another matter is curriculum overload versus coverage of a subject. The country needs to look at overload versus coverage and there needs to be research. A comparison against other countries must be undertaken. A study should be done so that everyone knows what learners must achieve from their learning. There is agreement with the need for learners to know history but there needs to be a common understanding of history. We know history helped us in the past, but what does DBE want to focus on: is it only South African history? It is not acceptable for children not to know from where they came.
The Chairperson emphasised the importance of pacing of the curriculum. However, pacing should not be done as a matter of ticking the boxes. Pacing must address content, remedial work and slow learners. What happens to learners who are left behind when the required time period is over for that content?
The Chairperson expressed a particular interest in the discussion on decolonisation as colonisation in the curriculum is so pervasive that even the issue of language by parents who prefer English is colonisation. She will be awaiting a report on decolonising the curriculum and how DBE is going to go about decolonisation in the medium and long term. The African Language plan already speaks to decolonisation.
Dr Govender noted that 33 questions had been put to the Department but that he would package the answers as some questions overlapped. He explained that Mother Tongue instruction was located under the broad banner of language and the critical role language plays in improved learner performance. DBE has two issues to deal with here. Firstly, DBE has to address the needs of learners, that is, the black African learners who are taught through English or Afrikaans, which is a foreign language, like German or Spanish, to learners in deep rural areas.
Mr Davis (DA) interjected and asked why two of the 11 national languages are considered a foreign language. He objected to the statement by DBE that English was a foreign language as it is not. DBE cannot suggest that English is not a language of this country as it is enshrined in the Constitution.
The Chief Director pointed out that his own language, Tamil, is foreign to him because his parents died when he was very young and he did not learn to speak Tamil when he was growing up. He was adamant that English and Afrikaans are similarly foreign to rural learners.
Mr Davis retorted that DBE was not correct as the Constitution determined that English is a language of South Africa. He alleged that the use of the word “foreign” is incorrect and requested that DBE withdraw it.
The Chairperson explained that isiZulu is foreign to her so it shows the incorrect interpretation of the word “foreign” may be the problem and that Mr Davis should understand this.
Mr Davis objected as neither IsiZulu nor English could be considered foreign as they are in the national anthem.
Ms Majeke added that originally, and because of colonisation, English was a foreign language, as with Afrikaans. African languages are not foreign but English and Afrikaans are.
The Chairperson suggested that it was time to move on as the discussion was highly charged and was becoming political and not what was needed in the Committee where everyone has worked well together. It was agreed that there are 11 official languages in South Africa and the differing interpretations of the word “foreign” illustrated exactly how non-English speakers have a different interpretation of words. An English mother tongue speaker must have a different understanding of what is meant by “foreign”.
Dr Govender resumed the responses to the questions by noting that DBE needs to cognisant of the needs of learners, that is they should have instruction in their mother tongue but the Department also has an obligation to prepare learners for the 21st century and the system has to accommodate all these needs. Mother Tongue instruction is long term because it requires a long time for preparation but there is currently no timeframe as the groundwork is still being done. A pilot is underway in the Eastern Cape. Conceptually the issue is challenging but it also requires huge preparation, advocacy, preparation of teachers, university cooperation, textbooks, and the development of support material. DBE is saying that all policies are in place, including the Language Policy and the Language Framework but DBE cannot implement each language at the same time. Mother Tongue instruction is important to the Department but it is an enormous task and DBE is approaching it responsibly where pilots are underway and material is being tested. The workload of teachers, the problems in rural schools and the inadequate teacher-pupil ratio is acknowledged.
DBE admits that all is not well in education and that ideally, they need a set number of learners in each school. Post ratios cannot be finalised until the current processes are complete and this includes the merger and closure of schools. The Department can see the benefits of these processes but the communities are making it very difficult, largely because of the role that schools play in the community. There are challenges in closing schools but post provisioning cannot be looked at outside of rationalisation and the redeployment of teachers. It is acknowledged that DBE receives a large portion of the national budget, but there are always funding constraints. A key reason for the problems in education is that the budget is not adequately used for services. Up to 90% of budget in each PED is used to pay salaries. It is expected that a large percentage of the budget be spent on personnel costs, but this is very high and limits the amount of money available for services within the Department.
On textbooks, Siyavula texts have been produced by DBE. The materials have been written by quality writers and sponsored. DBE has advised PEDs to use Siyavula texts. The materials cover the entire curriculum and so there is no need for other material, although schools may supplement the materials if they have funds to do so. DBE wants to get to a point where all textbooks are produced in-house by the DBE. This has caused a lot of discontent from LTSM publishers but DBE has a catalogue of up to ten books per subject per grade but economies of scale impact enormously on the cost of books. DBE wants to purchase one specific book and buy it for all learners. When the Limpopo Education Department was able to negotiate the price for buying a single book, the negotiated price was one-tenth of the listed price, which proved to be a huge saving.
Workload and slow learners have been recognised and a real attempt has been made to reduce content and assessment load, but relief for teachers and learners is still questionable. One solution may be to move into specialisation. DBE is debating whether some topics should be dealt with in more depth rather than a more superficial coverage of all topics. Actions in 2017 are intended to bring immediate relief.
CAPS was introduced in Grade 12 in 2014 so there were no benchmarks for achievement, although DBE had provided exemplar question papers. Adjusting to a new curriculum, new assessment and the way in which examiners interpret the curriculum would have impacted on results and therefore examination adjustments by Umalusi. Cognitive levels and demands have differed and increased in the new curriculum.
Training in CAPS took place at three levels. Preparatory training took place before implementation but DBE cannot say that every teacher has been trained as some teachers currently in the classrooms are temporary teachers, replacement teachers, and qualified teachers from SADC. Apart from initial teacher training, Continuous Professional Training and Development (CPTD) is being done by DBE, provincial departments and teacher unions.
Long term plans include a relook at promotion and progression, especially in the Senior Phase. The current requirements are such that DBE had to send out circulars dealing with the handling of Mathematics, given the current pass requirements. While there is a need for policy change, this must be preceded by research and policy proposals.
On the compulsory offering of History, Committee members have given adequate justification for this from an educational point of view. However, DBE has not enacted the requirement to offer History as the Minister has elected to be objective and selective. The Minister has appointed a task team to engage with the issue, to unpack what constitutes history and what aspects of history should be included. It is important that every child knows the history of resistance and struggle to unite and build South Africa in order to appreciate where we are. South Africa has defied history in respect of making a change to democracy without a revolution. DBE is considering whether Life Orientation can incorporate what the country needs in terms of an historical perspective. History for all learners would require a huge preparation, from teachers to books and budget.
The South African curriculum has been developed using international expertise and the reality is that DBE is dealing with a curriculum based on knowledge, but the attitude, skills and especially content has to be decolonised. For example, the way in which History has been written suggests that Livingstone discovered Victoria Falls but, in fact, it existed and people lived there long before Livingstone arrived. Even universities are grappling with decolonisation. Nelson Mandela University is one that recently had a workshop on the issue and at which DBE made a presentation. If decolonising implies a greater exposure to indigenous knowledge, that would be the position of DBE.
SIAS and sign language are being attended to. National training has been implemented, including a full day programme on sign language last week and further training has been planned for next week. However, DBE accepts that that training is not necessarily enough for a teacher. While there is a need to monitor and support the implementation of sign language, people have not been appointed to monitor sign language at national, provincial or district level. Currently language advisors have to do it as the budget does not allow the appointment of additional staff.
SASAMS can be upgraded to provide the uniformity in the collection of data and verification from a learner performance perspective, that DBE requires. The plan is to move towards the uploading of learner performance at the end of each term. Curriculum coverage must also be a module of SASAMS but for this to happen, every school must have connectivity and be ICT compliant.
Norms and standards stipulate one textbook per child per grade. The challenge is in the implementation of the LTSM retrieval policy. The system does not get books back at the end of year, leading to shortages in the following year. There have been problems in getting learners to pay for lost books. Schools also have an infrastructure challenge in storing books.
On the brailling of books, DBE is definitely working with partners but admits falling short in terms of basic principles of access and redress and much needs to be done.
Proposals about the unpacking of Science into Chemistry and Physics are being looked at but currently South Africa does not have sufficient qualified Mathematics and Physical Science teachers. MST is a priority of government, and Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) have been informed of this priority but the reality is that top learners who perform with distinction are not going to university to become teachers. They aim to become engineers, etc. Piloting a phased process of implementation would require huge engagement with HEIs as Chemistry and Physics are not currently separated in an education degree.
Provincial officials have been trained in the monitoring of changes by DBE subject specialist so that PEDs can do it. The programme for March includes training by DBE subject officials and monitoring eight primary and eight secondary schools in each district. The NSLA has nine pillars and every term each PED reports on each pillar to facilitate tracking of learner performance.
The pacing of curriculum is handled differently by public and independent schools. Independent schools are responsible for managing pacing of the curriculum. In public schools, the sequence of the curriculum must be adhered to and the focus is not on ticking a box, but on content knowledge, and the ticking of boxes to indicate completed sections of work must be linked to assessment results, including SBA and quarterly and annual tests.
The Chairperson invited follow-ups.
Mr Davis returned to the decolonisation theme asking if the international experts and advisors had colonised the curriculum. He explained that he was trying to understand why the curriculum was not decolonised in 2012. He was also concerned that DBE admitted to not having a definition of decolonisation and was unsure as to whether changes could be made without an understanding of the task in hand. Mr Davis interrupted his questioning to note that he was a bit perturbed that a person sitting in a seat against the wall, who may or may not be a member of DBE, had been raising eyebrows and making other gestures that made it difficult for him to speak as he was distracted by her reactions.
Although the Chairperson had not personally seen such behaviour, she requested that person, that, if she had been making gestures, to please stop.
Mr Davis noted that he did not expect everyone to agree with him, but such behaviour was a distraction. He was trying to understand how DBE can want to implement something that it does not fully grasp nor have a definition for it. He also wanted to know if there had been a survey on how many people in SA do want mother tongue education.
The Chairperson felt compelled to respond to the decolonisation issue. She explained that it was not for the first time that they had been talking about decolonisation. It is a progressive thing that the country was not starting at this time. It has been on the agenda since the beginning.
Mr Khosa wanted to remind colleague that in 1994 South Africa started with 18 education departments and had made many changes since then.
In response, Dr Govender explained that the department does not lack an understanding of decolonisation and that it has always been a primary goal of the curriculum. International experts were brought in to provide an international understanding of education. For example, Outcomes Based Education (OBE) was incorrectly understood and implemented in South Africa. It was an approach to teaching, and not a curriculum. With the introduction of the NCS, the process of decolonising was commenced, but there are still areas of the curriculum where a great deal of work needs to be done. For example, literature includes drama and drama is based on Shakespeare and not drama as has been written by people in South Africa and Africa. He added that he has a master’s degree in History on issues such as racialisation which is an aspect of colonisation. The curriculum has been deracialised and decolonised but certain things have been overlooked. For example, in the United States, History is the history of its own country whereas in South Africa, one component is South African history and one component is world history. The question is raised as to what should be the required balance between the two components. The European influence has been good in some ways but has probably excluded the South African reality. Even in the next revision not all decolonisation will be removed.
Dr Govender was not aware of research on parental choice in respect of mother tongue teaching by DBE but promised to check and forward a response to the Committee. He noted that there is a parallel issue, which is the importance of mother tongue learning versus globalisation, which demands a focus on English. It is common cause that English is a global language.
The Chairperson thanked DBE and Committee members for a nice engagement which opened the way for future engagement. Moving to the Integrated Indigenous African Languages (IIAL) presentation, she said the Committee wanted to know the progress on the implementation of African languages, the challenges and wins. She was aware that it was not long since it was started but the Committee needed an update.
Implementation of the Introduction of African Languages (IIAL)
DBE explained that IIAL is a strategy, not a policy. Education is controversial and DBE will always be criticised. The Department is appreciated on one hand and criticised on other. IIAL is being introduced as a strategy for implementing the National Development Plan to ensure social cohesion and multi-lingualism. All policies facilitating the implementation of IIAL are in place.
IIAL is intended to strengthen the use of African languages at a home language level and improve proficiency in, and access to, previously marginalised African languages in order to promote social cohesion. All learners must offer at least one previously marginalised official African language as part of their curriculum requirement and DBE will target all schools that are currently not offering a previously marginalised official African language. Currently 3 558 schools are not offering an indigenous language.
The National Curriculum Statement (NCS) requires learners to offer two official languages, one of which must be the language of learning and teaching, and the other one as a subject. One language should be offered at Home Language level and the other one at First Additional Language level. In 2015, the DBE appointed a task team to develop Second Additional Language (SAL) CAPS in English. This was versioned into the other ten official languages. In 2015 the DBE developed the Foundation Phase SAL Toolkit and distributed to all schools that are implementing the IIAL. The Toolkit comprises a full set of LTSM to facilitate learning and teaching. Exemplar assessment tasks are included in the Lesson Plans in the Toolkit but IIAL assessment is not for progression purposes.
The National Core Training Team (NTT) capacitated provinces to cascade the IIAL training to all prospective teachers in all the districts. 66 and 70 subject advisors were trained in 2013 and 2014 respectively on SAL CAPS Grade 1-3 and the utilisation of IIAL Toolkit. 735 teachers have received IIAL orientation in 2016. Provincial IIAL teacher orientation workshops are held regularly on an on-going basis.
Provinces, depending on their contexts, are using different teacher provisioning models which include: new appointments, teachers in addition, retired teachers, teachers from existing staff establishment and itinerant teachers. All 842 schools currently implementing IIAL have teachers. Sixty schools that are implementing the IIAL will be monitored as part of the Medium-Term targets. The school monitoring visits include an interview with the principal/deputy principal and the teacher and an observation of an IIAL lesson. Additional monitoring and support will be provided through DBE structures.
Challenges include the teacher provisioning and budgetary constraints and a bid has been made to National Treasury. Provinces are currently utilising available staff. The attitude towards African languages is another challenge but which is being addressed via advocacy. The problems of the distance between schools has been solved by clustering schools.
Ms Basson commented that IIAL was well accepted in her province when announced but each PED is implementing differently. As it is a strategy and not a policy, she had wondered how learners are going to be motivated to proceed. She noted that internal assessment will be relevant so that the teacher will know that there is progress and so that it is not just a nursery class. She endorsed the concept of regionalisation of language teaching based on research but DBE must think about Khoisan in the Northern Cape where there are Khoisan schools. IIAL is good for social cohesion, more especially in sport when the teams can communicate with each other as one feels insulted when someone’s name is not pronounced as it is supposed to be, simply because the other person does not understand the clicks in that language. The purpose of learning an indigenous language is for conversation and to promote understanding. Congratulations to the Department.
Ms Majeke congratulated DBE. She appreciated the IIAL strategy. She noted that Parliament offers some learning empowering programmes, and wondered, if the budget allows, whether parliamentarians could be taught some of those languages so when they go out on visits they would be able to communicate with the people as that would definitely enhance cohesion. She also understands the need to take time.
Mr Davis was also excited about IIAL. He asked if progress was slow because of budget constraints and asked how much was needed from Treasury and how big the skills gap is. Could DBE provide details of the shortfall of teachers? He was of the opinion that in times of budgetary constraints, MPs should not be subsidised to learn languages. Priority must be learners and parliamentarians must pay for themselves.
Ms Boshoff asked how many additional subject advisors were required and expressed her concern that the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Education Departments had not provided figures and suggested that this had to be addressed. On inclusive education, especially for the deaf and blind learners, she asked if people have been trained in the district and whether inclusive education is included in initial teacher training. If not, what steps have been put in place?
Ms Mashabela commented that it was helpful to know that IIAL is a strategy but she was apprehensive about whether learners would take the teaching of indigenous languages seriously.
The Chairperson stated that scarce subjects must be included as a priority with Maths and Science so that South Africa is creating a pool of teachers. NSC results show that indigenous languages are found wanting and the involvement of institutions of higher learning then becomes imperative as it requires different skills to teach a second, third or fourth language. She asked what partnership DBE has with HEIs and agreed that it would be a good move for all to come together as Mr Davis had suggested and to assist DBE in the implementation of IIAL. On the teaching of languages at Parliament, Ms Majeke should feel free to raise it with the institution as it is important for when MPs go on oversight visits to the provinces and the Committee should lead by example.
Dr Govender noted that nine questions had been asked. He began by commenting that whatever DBE does, it will be a lose-lose situation. All members support IIAL and DBE could make it part of the curriculum but then DBE would be adding to the curriculum load for learners and teachers. Schools currently not offering IIAL are ex-Model C schools. Schools that offer English as a mother tongue, offer Afrikaans as second language and then the school would have to offer a third language to incorporate an indigenous language which would be an added burden compared to other schools that offer only English and one indigenous language. It is also problematic that there are many versions and positions on what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in language practice amongst PEDs. Since the emphasis is on social cohesion and communication, assessment is not for promotion purposes, but internal assessment is taking place to inform teaching and learning.
The challenge has been the need for ring-fenced funding and DBE often goes cap in hand to Treasury, even though lots of programs run by DBE are funded by donors, such as the European Union. R554.68 million is required in 2017, although the overall funding required for the implementation of IIAL is in the region of R2 billion. In the provinces, such as the Eastern Cape, teachers who teach other subjects are being utilised to teach languages so the nature of training has been on the use of CAPS, not in language per se. Universities do not always have fully fledged indigenous language departments. DBE does not link directly to universities but via the Department of Higher Education. Unfortunately, with the closure of teacher training colleges, teacher training fell into the hands of universities and lecturers, many of whom had no experience as a teacher. Dr Govender noted that he lectured at Edgewood College and that there is a huge difference between academic training and academic training for teachers. DBE can only appeal to universities but each university has a different curriculum. In the old days the syllabus formed the basis of training but currently teachers receive part-academic training and part-curriculum training. DBE inherits fully qualified teachers who have not been trained, for example, in inclusive education. The Funza Lushaka bursary scheme offers bursaries for indigenous languages but this is not prioritised over Mathematics and Science bursaries. DBE is still not getting top students as the schooling system does not match the private sector and there is a need for incentives, especially for teachers going into rural areas.
DBE has used Section 8 to force PEDs to provide information in the past. A letter has recently been sent to the Heads of Department of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga but it is well known that the provincial departments do not have funds for training and would like DBE to pay. Unfortunately, DBE does not have ring-fenced funds for this project.
Mr Khosa noted in the report that Mpumalanga has 184 schools that were not applying the strategy. One of the four districts in Mpumalanga is dominated by Xitsonga and that language is not offered in Mpumalanga. Even in the Western Cape, only Xhosa is offered but another language needs to be added in the Western Cape as Xhosa is not the only indigenous language spoken there.
The Chairperson agreed that with all provinces not only the dominant language should be offered. The main challenge is funding and it is important to find ways of what could be done. She told the Committee that she was giving them homework to apply their minds as to what other things could be done to assist DBE. She thanked Dr Govender for the excellent presentation.
Committee Oversight Programme
The Chairperson said that all members would love to be in the provinces to do oversight but there are two provinces that the Committee did not pay attention to because they perform well but the Committee could learn from them, and they also have challenges. The two provinces are the Western Cape Education Department and Gauteng. The Committee needed to shelve the Free Sate as she did want to overload the province as the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) were in Free State in January. There were so many issues in the Gauteng Department of Education, including registration, closing of schools, twinning of schools and so on. The proposals were being thrown to the Committee so that a decision could be made as to the next oversight visit.
Mr Davis supported the Chairperson’s proposal but he wanted to add a different dimension. It was important to visit entities such as Umalusi. The Committee did not oversee PEDs directly but had to visit schools. In addition, the Committee needed a full and rich understanding of the entities of DBE.
Mr Ntshayisa asked that Mpumalanga be put on the agenda as the Committee had been there just one day.
Mr Khosa proposed that, as they were looking at issues in Gauteng, they should go there.
The Chairperson noted that the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC), Umalusi and other entities are based in Gauteng and that, although they reported to the Committee at Parliament, it would be good to prioritise one of them and to visit them at their premises. She would finalise the oversight visit to Gauteng and include one entity.
The meeting was adjourned.