Curriculum 2005 Review Committee Report

Basic Education

05 June 2000
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


6 June 2000

Documents handed out:
Report of the Review Committee on Curriculum 2005
Remarks by Prof. L Chisholm
NAPTOSA Submission
SADTU - Research Report
SADTU Submission
SADTU Submission (2nd draft)

SAOU Submission

Relevant news article:
Your Curriculum Questions Answered , Cape Argus - 08/06/2000 (presented by the Western Cape Education Department)

The Review Committee on Curriculum 2005 emphasised that they had not called for an outright rejection of the curriculum, but that its structural design flaws need to be re-examined to bring about an implementable, streamlined curriculum for the 21st century which is being labelled Curriculum 21. Professor Chisholm said the majority of teachers are committed to OBE principles but seek clarity, simplicity and substantive professional support. She said the Review Committee would like to treat C2005 and OBE as separate but in teachers' minds the two are seen as the same thing.

Three main areas needing focus are: the confusing C2005 jargon; the "overcrowding" of the curriculum with insufficient time for development of effective reading skills, basic maths and science concepts; and weakness of design features promoting sequence, pace and progression as well as inadequate training of teachers. To address the flaws in C2005 they suggested an introduction of a revised curriculum structure supported by
- a national teacher education strategy
- production of learner support materials
- reorganisation of curriculum functions in national and provincial education departments
- a relaxation of the pace of implementation
A national curriculum statement is expected to be in place by June 2001 to remedy the flaws in Curriculum 2005. The Minister of Education would take a decision on 19 June 2000 about changes to Curriculum 2005.

The teacher unions commended the report of the Review Committee on C2005 but felt that certain areas did not receive adequate attention in its recommendations. SAOU identified the problematic area of assessment as having received insufficient attention in the Report. It questioned the introduction of C2005 in grades 4 and 8 only to be phased out in 2001, pointing out that this would create more confusion. The union said teachers should be left to continue with a curriculum they are comfortable with until planning and training has taken place for the implementation of Curriculum 21.

NAPTOSA said assessment should be retained but that it should be re-conceptualised. The union suggested that all curriculum education support services be trained. Regarding implementation of the curriculum NAPTOSA says all officials dealing with curriculum should be in the same directorate, and that a special project team to co-ordinate and manage learning support materials be created in each province.

SADTU said it believes OBE provides a framework for the development of relevant curricula which address the needs of the learner and society as a whole. SADTU recommended consistency of training so that all stakeholders should have a common understanding of OBE. Further the cascade training model was ineffective and training is not supported by monitoring, advisory and follow-up sessions. The inequalities and lack of basic infrastructure, material and human resources create major barriers to the implementation of OBE, especially for schools in poorer communities. The area of assessment also requires correction.

Other presenters comments included:
Publishing Association of South Africa recommended teacher development as a priority once the guidelines for the new version of OBE have been released. Further the process of setting up criteria for evaluating learning materials should not be devolved to the provinces as it cannot lead to uniformity of standards and results in nine different curricula.

University academics such as Dr Njobe recommended that OBE be phased in so that the playing fields can first be levelled. Prof Jansen stated that C2005 had failed and that this must be acknowledged. He said that attitudes towards constructive criticism by practitioners must change and be heeded. It was unfortunate that the failure of C2005 had resulted in 'policy cynicism' in the minds of teachers. Prof Berkhout concluded that all parties should be liable for OBE, it would be unfair to place the onus on either pupils, teachers or the department. Mr Lubisi, a member of the Review Committee, noted that they had not taken a position as to whether C2005 had failed or not. In answer to the criticism that there was only one practitioner on the Review Committee, he emphasised that they had sufficient evidence to back up their report.

The Review Committee
The Commission was represented by Commissioners: Ms Leonor Ngozi, Mr Cass Lubisi and its Chairperson Professor Linda Chisholm. Professor Chisholm expressed concern that the media has "written about what they think is there instead of what is there" regarding her Committee's findings and recommendations. She was adamant that the report encourages changes within the framework of Curriculum 2005 (C2005) and not a rejection of the entire system. The curriculum Review Committee has come up with a set of recommendations regarding C2005. There is no call for "going back to basics" of education by the Review Committee as the approach is not suitable - there is doubt that most people have the basics.

The report does not say teachers flunk C2005, but that teachers' understanding of the curriculum is not as deep as it should be and that it needs to be re-examined. The report does not promote a return to examinations but says the assessment policy and practice is not clear and needs to be re-examined.

The basic argument of the report says schools have a different understanding of C2005 and this varies between teachers, teacher-trainers and officials. There is support for C2005's underlying principles of learner participation, activity-based education, emphasis on relevance, flexibility, anti-bias, inclusion, holistic development, critical thinking and integration. However, educators had difficulties ensuring coherence and natural progression of learning as the curriculum has more design features to integrate different subjects according to topics than it does specific features to ensure progression of learning of individual subjects. Professor Chisholm said the majority of teachers are committed to the principles of Curriculum 2005 but seek clarity, simplicity and substantive professional support.

Recommendations are that the Minister should take steps to remedy the conceptual confusions, lack of clarity in policy documents and difficulties with implementation of C2005. The structural design and in some parts implementation of the curriculum is seen to be problematic. Three main areas needing focus are: the difficult language and confusing jargon used in C2005 documents; the "overcrowding" of the curriculum (inclusion of 8 learning areas in the GET band has meant insufficient time for development of effective reading skills, basic maths and science concepts); and weakness of specific design features promoting sequence, pace and progression.

Ms Ngozi said teachers see C2005 and OBE as basically the same. She stressed that the Committee has not done a review of OBE. The Committee's findings have pointed to weaknesses in the structure and design of Curriculum 2005. The approach of the review process has been to assess conclusions derived from existing research reports and papers. Second, there were visits to schools and interviews with provincial representatives, principals teachers, managers, trainers, and looking at public submissions. Third, the Review Committee analysed publishers' attitude toward the curriculum.

Critical to a strengthened implementation process are:
- a revised and streamlined outcomes based curriculum framework that promotes integration and conceptual coherence;
- a national teacher education strategy which locates teacher preparation and development;
- production of learner support materials, especially textbooks;
- ring-fenced budgeting for the curriculum;
- reorganisation and reinforcement of curriculum functions in national and provincial education departments;
- a relaxation of the pace of implementation;
- a managed process of phasing out the current C2005 and phasing in Curriculum 21;
- establishment of a task team to oversee the phase-out and phase-in process.

By June 2001 a new curriculum document should be in place allowing for all the different components of implementation to be in place. The document would specify more clearly what is to be learnt and at what level. Ms Ngozi said the Review Committee does not underestimate the challenges of streamlining the curriculum. She said one of the problems of the curriculum is the high expectation of public. C2005 has not failed but as mentioned has basic design flaws that impede its implementation.

SAOU Input
Ms Wilkens said SAOU is committed to an outcomes based approach to teaching and learning. The unions believes that certain areas of Curriculum 2005 need refinement and would necessitate training and planning. SAOU agrees with most of the findings in the Report by the curriculum Review Committee.

The union believes the following areas did not receive satisfactory attention:
- separate assessment when more than one language is offered;
- presently assessment is one of the biggest problem areas. Very little reference is made to this important issue;
- learners completing Grade 9 are not empowered to make informed decisions about further learning (FET) or the world of work.

While the SAOU supports the recommendations of the Review Committee's report it pointed out that:
- although the Review Committee rightly states there is confusion regarding terminology, the union's concern is that some terminology is now replaced by new jargon also causing confusion;
- while the reduction of learning areas from 8 to 6 in the GET-band is seen as positive; the union cautions that this should not narrow the scope of learners at Senior Phase by excluding economic and management science learning programmes. The union also pointed to a lack of mention of computer literacy which it views as a necessity in a highly technologically orientated 21st century.
- career guidance should receive prominent attention in the learning area: life orientation;
- unions be included in teacher training;
- the recommendation that technology and EMS be discontinued would result in loss of jobs for many educators;
- the question of training of educators beforehand and how they will be expected to change curriculum in the middle of an academic year should the National Statements be in position by June 2001 should be looked at.
The Union viewed as confusing the introduction of C2005 in Grades 4 and 8 in January 2001 only to phase it out in June 2001. SAOU said C2005 should continue in foundation phase until the national curriculum statements are in place and training has been completed. In the meantime educators should be left to choose to continue with the old curriculum or to focus on the outcomes based approach to education and assessment.

Ms Muller of NAPTOSA congratulated the Review Committee on a comprehensive report which it views as "objective and extremely thorough". The union said it shares the Review Committee's concerns and strongly supports its findings and recommendations.

NAPTOSA said it strongly identifies with the following recommendations:
- that number of specific outcomes be reduced and learning outcomes introduced;
- that learning area statements be introduced for greater clarity;
- that design features which were unnecessary duplications be eliminated;
- that introduction of assessment standards that would fulfil the function of the expected levels of performance should take place;
- that more time be allocated especially for languages and mathematics.
A recommendation of the union is that the assessment criteria be retained but reconceptualised.

SADTU said the union's submission is not an exhaustive response to the report of the Review Committee. The union views outcomes based education as a new approach to facilitate learning and teaching and which places the learner in the centre of teaching and learning and encourages critical learning. The union's view is that a curriculum is not an end in itself but a means, a tool for accomplishing educational goals. The goals are reflected in the critical outcomes which underpin the new curriculum and support the South African Constitution.

Findings of a research project conducted by SADTU on curriculum development in 1999 noted:
- A need to ensure common understanding of outcomes based education between those implementing C2005 and those developing it;
- The cascade training model proved ineffective and has created more confusion; training programmes are not supported by monitoring, advisory and follow-up sessions;
- The education system is still plagued by lack of basic infrastructure, material and human resources, which is further compounded by teacher redeployment and rationalisation. OBE is relatively resource-based and as long as inequalities persist this would create major barriers to the implementation of C2005 and OBE, especially for schools in poorer communities;
- Structural mismatches evident in issues of assessment, quality assurance and teacher development, need correction.

Advocate AH Gaum (NNP) wanted the Review Committee to clarify the phasing out of C2005 and phasing in of C21.

Professor Chisholm said the Review Committee is not saying we should wait until everything is in place, but that phasing in should start as soon as possible. The Minister of Education would take a decision on 19 June 2000 about changes to Curriculum 2005.

She said the Review Committee would like to treat C2005 and OBE as separate; what the Committee says is that in the teachers' minds the two are seen as the same thing. The Review Committee says underlying principles of C2005 have failed because of structure and design flaws and difficulty of terminology and inadequate training of teachers. Curriculum 21 would be building on the principles of C2005 but going away from the implementation approach in C2005 of working with rigid time frames.

Referring to a traditional, transitional or transformation curriculum misrepresents the education experience. The Review Committee's findings are that all these are in the classroom in a mixed model because one cannot find a pure model.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) said SAOU makes claims that teachers are not ready to implement the curriculum and advocates that they should be left with the old. Has SAOU conducted a research to say which schools are not ready to implement C2005?

SAOU said there are many schools where it knows training has not been adequate. Teachers feel insecure; rather what the curriculum should stress is methodology and outcomes based education. The union sees no point of phasing in a complex curriculum to phase it out soon. Rather teachers should use OBE until planning on implementation of C21 is complete. The union would like to see more training on OBE taking place, the old way of examinations and tests cannot be adhered to.

Mr S Ntuli (ANC) said it seems all unions are worried about assessment; how would they like assessment to be handled? What does SAOU mean when it says languages should be assessed differently.

SAOU does not have preference of only one language, what it says is that if 3 languages are present in a school assessment of a child cannot be the same for all three because there cannot be the same level understanding. SAOU believed educators would be able to assess better if they have assessment standards in Curriculum 21.

Ms M Njobe (ANC) asked whether it implies that the inspection system should be brought back.

SADTU said its findings have been that training is insufficient for implementing C2005 but does not imply that inspection would necessarily bring about better results, there might be another process.

Mr Ntuli asked whether SADTU sees hope in the new version of the curriculum.

SADTU said it welcomes the report of the Review Committee and that SADTU findings mostly agree with the Review Committee's recommendations although the union still has some concerns as contained in its written input to the Committee.

Publishing Association of South Africa
Mr L Mabandla said that as part of preparation for the workshop Mr Mabandla had visited four schools in Soweto to illuminate the problems and challenges of C2005. Regarding the Cascade Model of Education his main concern was that there should not be a cluttered curriculum. There are three interrelated aspects of C 2005 which need to be considered in relation to the realities of teaching: resource-based learning, information literacy and lifelong learning.

Resource-based learning must be properly structured and carefully planned so that learning is not artificial and arbitrary. It takes a certain level of skill for a teacher to facilitate active learning for pupils. In respect of information literacy the learner must be required to select material and use it to solve problems. Teachers have to have a certain level of training and appropriate material must be used to develop higher-level thinking skills.

Teachers need learning support materials to cope with the new curriculum. He feels that the revision of the curriculum will make it easier for practitioners to use. There needs to be prioritisation of teacher development once the guidelines for the new version have been released. He acknowledged that careful thought goes into producing quality learning support material.

In conclusion, Mr Mabandla is of the view that the existing system of devolving to the provinces the process of setting up criteria for evaluating learning materials before approval and use in schools cannot lead to uniformity of standards. Currently each province's needs differ and they have different curricula specifications. If there was a better understanding of what the curriculum seeks to achieve and better co-ordination of criteria setting by the national department there would not be a situation where there are nine different curricula. The regulation of provincial tender boards does not assist the efficient procurement of books by the provinces. There needs to be a more streamlined system of procurement. Lastly, he advocates closer and more frequent dialogue with policy makers.

Mr Mangena (AZAPO) asked whether they had experienced any implementation problems in view of their experience with publishing companies. Do publishing companies produce suitable and necessary materials?

A SADTU delegate commented that publishers are not committed to changing. They change the names of their publications but not the content which is still the same as the past.

Mr Mabandla said that publishers are generally sincere and serious about providing materials to help learners. In some cases they did just change names, maybe from 'Henry' to 'Sipho' but these were exceptions. Publishers generally study the policy documents and try to reflect policy in these materials. He said that preparing materials in an atmosphere that is not predictable, especially in respect of the timeframe, is difficult. The way in which Curriculum 2005 was structured gave people uncertainty as to how materials had to be presented. In general, trying to formulate materials within the parameters of Curriculum 2005 was difficult.

Ms Njobe (ANC) said that teachers were essential to OBE. Did she correctly understand his implications that the moves to improve the skills of teachers are inadequate? How can teacher development be made more effective throughout the country?

Mr Mabandla felt that there has been inadequate training of teachers. The Cascade model should not be extended to so many different levels of educators otherwise it ceases to be effective. He wants to see a combination of issues including studying different school environments. Farm schools, for instance, have unique problems. If the cascade model could be adapted it could be more effective.

Eastern Cape independent researcher
Dr M W Njobe said he deals with a rural constituency and communication between headquarters and constituencies is a problem. He has no problems with OBE per se, rather he welcomes the outcomes-based approach. He did however, point out three concerns:
- Firstly, the conceptual side of OBE. What type of outcomes-based approach was being referred to and within which paradigm? In respect of the transformation of education the approach must begin with addressing human rights issues and unemployment.
- Secondly, the curriculum lacked socio-political content. Presently OBE is merely a method, there should be more focus on content.
- Thirdly, OBE cannot develop a full personality. Basic research into the readiness of schools and teachers to receive the new curriculum is lacking. For instance, it is his observation that a levelling of the playing fields is necessary. Disadvantaged schools cannot cope very easily. The curriculum must therefore be phased in gradually when schools are ready. When adopting the outcomes-based methodology other models used during the years of the struggle must be studied. For example, the peoples' education model and the foundation for education reproduction model. A principle of free choice must be taken in the adoption of Curriculum 21.

An ANC member asked what schools should be using in the meantime if they are not ready for C21. The disparities of the past must be acknowledged as some schools have been advantaged over others. At what rate and when does he envisage that the situation will have equalised?

Dr Njobe said that if OBE is introduced immediately and not phased in, the past will be perpetuated. Rural areas will remain in confusion. If it is phased in, the curriculum can be studied in its proper environment and the playing fields can be levelled first. He expressed his agreement with the paper presented by SADTU.

University of Durban-Westville
Professor Jansen, newly appointed head of education at the University of Pretoria, had many concerns about OBE:

- He asked what do the terms C21, C2005 and OBE mean in the Review Committee report? Different meanings are attached to them by different parties. He is of the view that they must stay as close as possible to the understanding which teachers have of the terms.
- He stated unequivocally that OBE had failed and this must be acknowledged. The project failed teachers and benefited only some of the privileged pupils. There was a tendency to over-specify the details of OBE and the fact that national pronouncements do not have the same meaning in local contexts must be acknowledged. The curriculum should rather be steered well and kept simple.
- There is a continuing lack of coherence over how government conducts policy review. He cited examples of schools that still use apartheid curriculum books and problems of ongoing racism and sexism in schools. Policy work must be integrated to address such problems experienced by schools and pupils.
- He asked how can deep transformation be effected to the school system? Not necessarily by utilising more resources but existing resources must be 'geared up' to make a difference to curriculum transformation in schools. He suggested combining in-service strategies and doing away with workshops which are not effective.

What can be learned from C2005?
-Attitudes towards committed criticism must change. There were criticisms made of C2005 very early on but these were not heeded.
-The effects of policies and plans on teachers must be understood. The real cost of C2005 is that it has created 'policy cynicism' in teachers' minds which will hamper future response to new policies.

Ms Mothoagae (ANC) said it seemed to her that Prof Jansen was waiting to gloat over the failure of the project. He must acknowledge the successes picked by the Review Committee.
Prof Jansen said he had not been building up to gloat at the workshop. He felt he was only being consistent.

Mr Vadi (ANC) asked what the substance of the new curriculum must be.
Prof Jansen recommended that a curriculum be developed at national level and the provinces could then work out the details. The more specifications are made, the more control is lost because schools do not respond impulsively to policy statements.

Mr Mpontshane (IFP) asked whether the Review Committee would agree that the entire C2005 had failed. What definitions of the three concepts was Prof Jansen offering?

Prof Jansen's response was that teachers understand the three concepts in the same way while the Department understands OBE as an expression of good education, active group work, interactive learning - very 'nice' words. OBE must reflect practitioners' views.

Ms Njobe (ANC) said that from experience, the lack of clarity caused by leaving matters up to the provinces sometimes results in the provinces doing nothing. Provincial laws are merely used to maintain the status quo in provinces.

Prof Jansen replied that he did not mean leaving it up to provincial departments. But if enabling legislation was promulgated at national level, legislation must be promulgated at provincial level to prevent abuses. A national teacher development initiative is necessary which would encompass in-service training development initiatives. He said it is easier to implement a simple curriculum because it can achieve the kind of outcomes required.

University of Pretoria
Professor B Berkhout said that from a systems perspective, OBE means a shift in the equity debate in the country. C 2005 promised 66 outcomes which means that every learner must be able to display the 66 outcomes when leaving school at Grade 9. She sort to evaluate who should be held responsible for OBE:
-Must learners take responsibility for their own learning? Especially in the context of the job environment, could the onus be placed on learners, that they will not be able to secure employment unless they could display the 66 outcomes? Would this expectation be unfair?
-Must teachers be responsible for the outcomes? The lack of resources and uneven playing fields in schools would make this unfair. Teachers 'process' pupils in batches of thirty five or forty at a time. It is really difficult to make sure that all pupils demonstrate the necessary outcomes. Is it possible for them to deal with all the unexpected? In this regard assessment is crucial but designing effective assessment is difficult and would it not be unfair to hold teachers accountable?
Who then is to be held responsible for OBE? Perhaps Ministers and MECs for not levelling the playing fields? Her personal critique of OBE is that it originated in a work-based situation where there is a real need for skilled manpower or rather resource development.
Prof Berkhout's conclusion is that everyone is to be held liable for OBE.

Prof Ndabandaba (IFP) said that most problems experienced by young people centre around life skills especially self identity, self assertion and so forth. How can these life skills be taught?

Prof Berkhout said that the notion of a subject called 'lifeskills' is a misnomer because it implies that the school system is failing in its task of preparing pupils for real life. Attitudes should be changed so that life skills can be a fundamental part of school education.

Prof Ndabandaba asked what her reaction was to questions raised by the Review Committee?

Prof Berkhout's answer was that it is difficult to implement a new curriculum in a system where the existing difficulties had not been addressed. A long-term strategy is needed to challenge and initiate teachers. She acknowledged that teachers work hard and that the focus must not fall only on teachers who are not taking up their responsibilities.

Mr Mpontshane (IFP) asked whether White schools have the same problems with C2005 as Black schools. Prof Berkhout said that her experience is that both White and Black schools are challenged.

University of Natal
Mr C Lubisi made a presentation on behalf of the University of Natal and not in his capacity as a member of the Review Committee. He made a number of observations on OBE.
-There is a lack of understanding about what OBE entails but the contestation over meanings is a healthy one. OBE cannot be regarded outside of context; context should define what OBE means for South Africa.
-OBE cannot be the only framework on which our curriculum is based. There are attempts to blur the boundaries of school knowledge and general skills and this must be taken into account.
-Everyone now has access to information but what is important is what you do with it. These and other outcomes should be inherent in an outcomes-based system.
-Planning is important and should take note of disparities between population groups and geographic areas.
-Basic content and skills should not encompass the old straight-jacket approach although these are important tools. OBE should not ban words like 'understanding' or 'analysing' just because they are not tangible outcomes. An overemphasis on OBE may result in its trivialisation in the sense that there will be a list of outcomes which can merely be ticked off. This narrow approach must be avoided.

Mr Lubisi had a number of concerns over issues raised in earlier presentations.
Regarding the removal of economics, management and science from the curriculum. SAOU felt that there are enough teachers to deal with these three subjects. Where are these teachers? Studies show that technology is not being taught in Grade 7 because there are no teachers. This leads to a situation where, if these subjects are retained, they will need to be evaluated at GET certificate level. This is setting pupils up for failure. Mr Lubisi said that economics, management and science would be relocated into the general education sphere where entrepeneurship, for instance, will be given a greater emphasis. He feels that OBE transformation and transformation in general is being confused.

Adv Gaum (NNP) asked Mr Lubisi to answer a number of questions in his capacity as a member of the Review Committee.
- Does the report recommend moving towards developing general educational support materials instead of letting teachers develop their own support materials?
Mr Lubisi said that teachers cannot produce textbooks but they can use resources to produce support materials, drawing on various sources. In under-resourced areas this may not be feasible and a need for textbooks will arise.

- Is the report recommending a greater emphasis on content?
Mr Lubisi's response was that one of the canons of some versions of OBE advocate banning the specification on content. But the Review Committee feels that such a version is not suitable for SA. Rather, a meaningful learning programme is required with a strong conceptual basis. An emphasis on content is necessary but this does not mean a return to the old 'syllabus'.

- Should C2005 be suspended in grades 1-4 until there is greater clarity?
A CEM meeting is being held on 19 June but it is felt that the Ministry should deal with this question.

- Can publishers be assisted in knowing what content to give to materials produced in future?
Mr Lubisi felt that this was a difficult question to answer. Earlier Prof Jansen had said that teachers today are still using old textbooks in the context of C2005. These books did contain some good material but the publishers were not satisfied because they wanted direct use of materials.

In response to Prof Ripinga's request that he comment on Prof Jansen's allegation that OBE has failed, Mr Lubisi said that the Review Committee did not have a direct position as to whether OBE has failed or not. This is a loaded question which required the term 'failure' to be unpacked.

In replying to his next question if the fact that there was only one practitioner on the Review Committee resulted in the report not reflecting the practical concerns of teachers, Mr Lubisi said that in fact Department officials were interviewed at length in preparing the report. However, the Review Committee was not appointed with sectoral representation. Whether this is good or bad is a matter for the Minister to address. He emphasised that the Review Committee has massive evidence to back up the findings in its report.

Dr Njobe, an earlier speaker, commented that constitutional values and correct attitudes are difficult to teach. In the Black schools, for instance, there will need to be practicals but they will also need to evaluate whether outcomes are being displayed.

Mr Montsisi (ANC) commented that OBE is a method of teaching which has to be implemented not just something which will come about. Is it possible to say that the system has failed while we are still implementing it?

Ms Mothoagae (ANC) asked Mr Lubisi to explain the way forward.
Mr Lubisi said that C2005 was implemented at a turbulent time which had made matters difficult for teachers. The Review Committee has recommended a core team to do development work instead of relying on the cascade model and in due course proposals will be released. Reliance cannot be placed on a group within the Department rather teacher training must be institutionalised within the higher education system.

The meeting was concluded.


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