The Department of Basic Education (DBE) briefed the Committee on the implementation of the Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL) and the introduction of History as a compulsory subject.
The DBE Director-General said that 27% of public schools nationally are implementing the Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL) in Grades 1 and 2 in 2017 despite challenges, which include an inadequate number of willing and competent teachers as well as negative attitudes and misconceptions about African languages being inferior in the global scheme. The target is to reach 3 558 public schools across all grades by 2029.
The Director-General said that History is integral to the well-roundedness of learners and further research would be done by a Ministerial Task Team on how best to integrate History as a compulsory subject as well as to refine the content of the subject to reflect South Africa’s democracy and a balanced world-view which also meets the calls for the decolonisation of subject content.
The Committee members expressed excitement in anticipation of the implantation of both IIAL and History as a compulsory subject but also concern for the added workload and school hours that both teachers and learners would have to endure as part of the additions to the CAPS curriculum. The Minister admitted that she agrees with the concerns raised by the Committee as a whole and shares in their excitement. The Minister also joked that it is always questionable when the opposition is in agreement with her plans.
The Committee was also given a brief update on the progress in the Jobs for Cash investigation and protests but the DBE did not go into great detail and admitted that it was not prepared enough to present comprehensively. DBE requested that it be allowed to brief the Committee comprehensively at a later date.
Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIAL)
Mr Mathanzima Mweli, DBE Director-General, said that the National Development Plan (NDP) states that few non-African South Africans speak any African language and that they should be encouraged by both government and society to develop conversational competency in an African language to promote understanding and social cohesion. The IIAL thus flows from the NDP.
In giving expression to this, in 2013 DBE announced plans to strengthen the teaching of African languages through the IIAL. The IIAL targets all schools that are currently not offering a previously marginalised official African language. The end plan was to reach a total of 3558 schools. IIAL was piloted in Grades 1 and 2 in 264 schools in 2014 and across all provinces in 2015 and this number grew to 814 schools in 2016 which constitutes about 23% of total applicable schools. The reach continued to increase to 973 schools in 2017 which is about 27% of schools which are set to implement the IIAL programme.
Mr Mweli said that the Council of Education Ministers approved a recommendation of the Minister’s Management Meeting that instead of spreading the implementation towards 2020 it would rather look at having all schools, who have not yet implemented IIAL, implement IIAL in Grade 1 by next year.
The legislative framework for IIAL is found in the Constitution, section 6 of the South African Schools Act and section 4 of the National Education Policy Act of 1996. There is also the Language and Education Policy of 1997 which stressed the notion of multilingualism and the promotion of home languages.
The objectives of the IIAL are well known: to improve proficiency in previously marginalised African languages, raise the confidence of parents to choose languages for their children and increase access to languages beyond English and Afrikaans
As a whole, there is progress. The languages covered are specific to region and mainly informed by languages used for communication in each of the nine provinces.
Some of the challenges are the availability of willing and competent teachers to teach African languages and attitudes and the misconception that African languages having little value in the global scheme of things. Gauteng is the leading province when it comes to the implementation of IIAL and they have shared how they have dealt with these challenges.
The itinerant model used for teachers has proven to work. How it works is that teachers who are not attached to a specific school are rotated between a cluster of schools for the purpose of IIAL implementation. Itinerant teachers, and some teachers from exiting school staff, are mostly used for IIAL implementation.
There have been talks on the use of Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) as a support mechanism for implementation.
IIAL is aimed at public schools but that there are also many private schools offering African languages. Lessons on best practice from those private schools are being used for the implementation of IIAL.
The DBE, provinces and districts are expected to deliver implementation plans for 2018. The target date of full implementation of IIAL is 2029.
Plans to Consider History as a Compulsory Subject
Mr Mweli said that History is very important subject which allows learners to gain an understanding of the past and how far South Africa has come. A Ministerial Task Team (MTT) is in place whose terms of reference include conducting research on how best to implement the introduction of compulsory History in Further Education and Training (FET) schools, strengthen content of History in the FET band and review content in the General Education and Training band.
The MTT will compile a final report and present it to the Minister of Basic Education and senior management of the department by December 2017.
Mr T Khoza (ANC) said that most teachers are afraid of marking essays and subjects which have a marking load attached to them. Teachers therefore tend to shy away from teaching languages and those types of content-intensive subjects. He foresees a serious challenge in motivating teachers to take on this proposal. He said that History is so vital and we are definitely on the right path in considering its inclusion.
Mr Mweli replied that teachers will need to be motivated because of the increase in workload but that it is an issue that will be monitored.
Ms C Majeke (UDM) asked whether the African languages would be accompanied by formal assessment and if not, questioned how learners would be motivated to take this subject seriously. She asked if the introduction of History would unnecessarily add to the workload of learners.
Mr Mweli replied that there will be formal assessment and that it has been recommended that assessment be made part of promotion and progression reports.
Mr I Ollis (DA) said that he thinks the IIAL is a fantastic programme and that he is sorry that he had not had the opportunity to take African languages up to Matric. History is a very important subject but he is not convinced that making it a compulsory subject is a good idea because. He is not sure whether forcing learners to do it is in their best interest as it may not be useful for learners when they get a job or go to university. He is concerned that subject options are being reduced instead of increased.
Mr Mweli responded that the NDP envisaged that African languages, at minimum, be taught to equip students to have conversational competency and not necessarily to give them first language competency. The History equivalent of Maths Literacy should be anticipated. It would thus be for civic responsibilities and ensure that learners come out well rounded and informed and not necessarily for the purposes of creating historians. So the usefulness of History as a subject will be in the effect the subject has in moulding learners despite their subsequent chosen careers.
The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, admitted that making History compulsory may interfere with the number of options available to students. There is a risk of overloading the curriculum especially if it is taught at the same level as Physical Science, for example.
Ms H Boshoff (DA) said that she supports the implementation of the IIAL but has reservations because she has not seen anything mentioned about the Khoisan language. The workload of teachers needs to be considered especially in more rural areas where the ratio of teachers is 1:60 or 1:80. She is also afraid that the target will not be met by 2029. She asked how many hours would need to be added to a school day to fit in an extra language and History into the curriculum. Nothing was mentioned as to the authority to introduce African languages in the provinces and wanted to know whether it lies with the DBE.
Minister Motshekga responded that she has happy to announce that KhoeKhoe is being introduced in the Northern Cape. Mr Mweli added that in the past week the Northern Cape was working with officials from Namibia in preparation to teach KhoeKhoe as part of IIAL.
The Minister replied that Gauteng has an advantage in that teachers can move between schools that are in close proximity but in more rural areas this advantage is non-existent because schools are quite a distance apart. Gauteng used the itinerant teacher model for Maths, Science and English in the districts. The majority of the schools implementing IIAL are in urban towns therefore the implementation of IIAL will not be an impediment. The roll-out is not yet at a very complicated level so there are enough resources at this stage because it aligned to the elementary grades such as grades one to three which gives DBE time to strategise on acquiring resources. The discrepancies amongst provinces are more a resources-distribution issue than one of attitude.
Mr Mweli added that School Governing Bodies determine language policy taking into account policy from national and provincial government.
Ms Boshoff said Mr Suren Govender, DBE Chief Director: Curriculum Implementation, had said in a previous report that not enough has been done to decolonise the subject of History. She asked what was going to be done to achieve decolonisation of History, particularly in the Cape.
Mr Mweli responded that the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) is viewed as one of the best curriculums in the world. He does not understand how a world-class curriculum can be classified as being colonised.
Minister Motshekga replied that a Eurocentric history is still being taught and that she agrees that South Africa must focus first on the content of what is being taught in History even at basic grade levels. As an aside, if we look at Cuba, they have cultural institutes which expose everyone to the elements of world history, which has proven that History as a discipline allows one to acquire so many more soft-skills and competencies. This is what excites her about making History a compulsory subject. It promotes a culture of reading, essay writing and patriotism, amongst others.
Mr H Khosa (ANC) asked about the readiness of teachers to teach History as a compulsory subject. He said another challenge is the acquisition of qualified teachers and asked what the plans are to ensure the project is achievable at the desired standard.
Ms J Basson (ANC) said that the importance of language cannot be overemphasised and that a nation without history is a lost nation. She asked if funds have been secured to implement these programmes because in a report earlier this year it said that provinces have no funds to implement new programmes. She asked how the programmes would be evaluated and their success monitored.
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) asked about the challenge of qualified teachers, and how many are available for the implementation of IIAL. She asked what the role of DBE and the provinces are in the implantation of IIAL and what the budget is for its implementation. She asked how many teachers have been trained and are available for the IIAL programme.
The Chairperson noted the call for all schools to implement IIAL by 2018. She asked the Ministry to share what the attitude towards IIAL was by the provinces and what the actual challenges were. She asked what was going to be done to ensure schools are resourced to implement these programmes. She fully agrees that each leaner must be exposed to History but reducing the options of subject choice is not something she is convinced about. It must be known what the content of the History is that learners are exposed to. She looks forward to the Ministerial report on the content and implementation of History as a compulsory subject.
Dr Mamiki Maboya, DBE Deputy Director-General: Curriculum Policy, said that the decision was made not to increase the teaching time and that the IIAL would be accommodated within the existing programme. There is funding available for IIAL. Workbooks and toolkits are already available and are currently being digitised since ICT is being leveraged to ensure learners and teachers are resourced.
To increase teacher capacity, Dr Maboya said all foundation phase teachers, for example, will have to be trained in IALL since the programme will in any case be integrated into class time.
With History being a content-dense subject, learners would also have to be fluent in language usage to be able to write essays and that History is no longer an easy to pass subject. Furthermore, with the “4th Industrial Revolution” those necessary skills will be embedded into these subjects.
Mr Suren Govender, DBE Chief Director: Curriculum Implementation, said that decolonisation has occupied the public sphere to a very large extent. As we deal with an ongoing critique of the curriculum it must be noted that CAPS is the strongest curriculum we have in South Africa but that the DBE does acknowledge that there are some challenges. We have to move from an era of a colonial mind-set to a democratic one and as we move towards strengthening the new curriculum, we will plug those gaps and advance the curriculum in a way to promote the democratic values of our Constitution.
The Chairperson said that they would be monitoring and making follow-ups on the issues raised about the proposals to the curriculum.
Jobs for Cash investigation
Mr Mweli said that notes on this topic would be shared at a later time. In the last report from 29 November 2016, cases were divided into two. 81 cases made up Phase 1 of the Jobs for Cash scandal. Of those, 19 cases were from Kwa-Zulu Natal, five from Gauteng, 18 North West, five from Mpumalanga, 19 Limpopo and 15 from the Eastern Cape. This phenomenon was prevalent in six of the nine provinces. Of the KZN cases, 15 of those have been handled and closed with four still pending. Gauteng only had one case successfully dealt with and closed. Of the 18 North West cases, 14 had been dealt with and finalised with four cases still being handled. In Mpumalanga, four cases have been dealt with and closed with one still pending. Of the 19 cases in Limpopo, 17 have been dealt with and closed and two are still not finalised by the Limpopo Education Department. Of the 15 cases in the Eastern Cape, nine have been dealt with and closed and six are still pending.
Phase 2 consisted of 39 cases which came up during the course of the Ministerial Task Team finalising the initial set of cases in Phase 1. The Committee had been given a preliminary progress report last year. Of the 39 cases, Kwa-Zulu Natal had 23, Mpumalanga had 5, Eastern Cape 7 and Gauteng 3 and Northern Cape had one case reported. Of the 23 KZN cases, 18 have been investigated, dealt with and closed and 5 are still outstanding. Of the 5 reported Mpumalanga cases, 4 have been investigated and dealt with and one is still pending. Of the 7 Eastern Cape cases, two have been finalised and five are still outstanding. Of the Gauteng cases, one has been finalised and one is outstanding. The Northern Cape case has been investigated and finalised.
The Chairperson asked how these cases were concluded and what the outcomes of the investigations were. Also, what is being done to ensure that this phenomenon is not being repeated.
Mr Ollis asked how many of those cases have gone to court and if anyone had been dismissed.
Mr Mweli responded that there is a case-by-case update which could be made available to the Committee. He added that in some cases money has even been recovered. They had not anticipated a comprehensive engagement on Jobs for Cash today but that a comprehensive presentation can be prepared and shared with the Committee. He would rather respond to questions when a report has been compiled.
Mr Mweli said that there were protests against the amount proposed by the Education Labour Relations Council (ELRC).
There is Personnel Administrative Measures (PAM) document which contains the job descriptions, core duties and responsibilities of all school based educators and principals which amount to a performance agreement. These documents have to find expression in every school. This was approved on 18 May 2017.
Mr Mweli said that follow-up will be made and that information will subsequently be shared with the Committee.
On service delivery protests, Mr Mweli said that the ones which will be reported on are the ones that occurred in Vuwani, Limpopo and in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga and in North West. A comprehensive report on the schools destroyed and rebuilt will be shared with the Committee.
Ms Tarabella-Marchesi said that she had heard that the R177 million necessary to fix the schools in Vuwani, Limpopo was provided by the DBE but later found that it was in fact funded by alternative sources including Lotto.
When she had visited some of the schools they were already falling apart even before being burnt. It was surprising that the Minister came up with the suggestion that they be refurbished, some were even mud schools. She asked if there is there a way that schools can be constructed rather than refurbished.
The Minister replied that there was some professional work which had to be done to assess the safety of the building structure, for example, which delayed the process of procurement. She does agree that service providers can do better and perhaps this is an opportunity to give some of the schools a fresh start.
The Chairperson said that getting proper information from provinces has proven to be such a challenge because reports are not always true. She questioned what can be done to get a real picture of what state schools are in so that the DBE can best maintain and address school structures.
Ms Boshoff said that the protest actions which took place were not service delivery protests but had to do with the moratorium on administrative staff. She urged DBE to intervene because at the end of the day the learners are suffering. This moratorium has been going on since 2002 and it would be a great help if someone with a bit of clout could address this issue.
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) asked whether it is possible to get one building plan to fit all schools.
Mr Mweli replied that they do have common prototype plans available to all provinces but some schools choose to embellish those plans, some even create completely new plans which all cost money.
The Chairperson announced that this is the last day of the parliamentary term.