National Curriculum Statement Implementation and College Recapitalisation: Department briefing

Basic Education

20 June 2005
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EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
21 June 2005
NATIONAL CURRICULUM STATEMENT IMPLEMENTATION AND COLLEGE RECAPITALISATION: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Professor S Mayatula (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department briefing on implementation of National Curriculum Statements for Grades 10-12
Department briefing on recapitalisation of Further Education and Training (FET) public colleges

SUMMARY
The Department of Education briefed the Committee on the implementation of the National Curriculum Statements for Grades 10-12 in 2006. Officials also dealt with investing R1.5 billion in the recapitalisation of Further Education and Training (FET) public colleges from 2006 to 2009 to enable these to aid in reducing unemployment through skills and human resource development.

The Committee raised some concerns, including teacher and college staff training, the matric exam, Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) funding, the future of technical schools, throughput and employment rates and college governing councils.

Minutes

Department briefing
Mr D Hindle, Department Director-General, was glad that the Committee would be visiting FET colleges both because it would affirm the college staff and allow the Committee to carry out its oversight function.

Ms P Vinjevold, Department Deputy Director-General of Further Education and Training (FET) then presented a report on developments in the preparation for the implementation of the National Curriculum Statements in Grades 10 to 12. A new Qualification and Assessment Policy Framework was being prepared for distribution to Provincial Departments of Education (PDEs) and schools by September 2005. Comment on this document had been solicited from various stakeholder bodies and the public.

Some key changes were that qualification and general assessment sections had been separated; learners must take two languages, mathematics or mathematical literacy, Life Orientation and another three approved subjects; and codes for assessment were more finely disaggregated at the top end.

Dates for the development and distribution of subject statements, requirements, qualifications, orientation and training programmes were given. This was under way, culminating in five days of subject orientation in April 2005, after which PDEs would develop a subject-specific teaching programme for 2006 to 2008. Books should be delivered by 30 November 2005.

The Department would launch an advocacy campaign of its vision by 31 August.

FET Colleges recapitalisation
In order to strengthen and increase alignment of FET colleges with Government’s human resource objectives, more than R1.5 billion would be invested in their recapitalisation from 2005 to 2009.

From 2000 to date, 152 FET colleges had been merged into 50, with multiple campuses. To consolidate the progress of the sector, the recapitalisation plans would focus on the following:
- Consolidation of mergers, including improved systems to manage physical resources, information technology infrastructure and management information systems.
- Development and modernisation of qualifications and programmes, including quality, relevance, participation rates, accreditation criteria etc
- Student support services. The current throughput rate is 51% and reported placement into jobs remained low.
- Governance and management interventions. Some governing council did not meet the requirements of the FET Act and some lacked the skills necessary to expand and develop activities. Staff development was needed, including workplace experience in industry and study at higher education institutions. Partnerships between FET colleges and government, NGOs and industry would continue to be nurtured.
- Staff profile. There will be targeted staff development programmes and changes in conditions of service.

The 2005/06 preparation phase for re-capitalisation would produce five key outputs:
1. An audit of the existing research on scare skills would be completed by September 2005
2. A report on programme offerings in FET colleges, including accredited qualifications and those in development; programmes offered and enrolment data and the development of 20 learning programmes related to qualifications registered on the National qualifications Framework
3. A report on infrastructure at existing college sites
4. Development of national, provincial and college re-capitalisation plans, incorporating colleges’ reworked three-year plans. These would be submitted to PDEs by the end of August 2005. The PDEs would write provincial plans reflecting the role that colleges would play in provincial growth and development strategies
5. A FET Sector Plan that would
- clarify the role and mission of FET colleges;
- determine the size and shape of the college system;
- set targets for the system and individual colleges;
- identify key skills for focus in the next five years;
- provide a framework for programme differentiation;
- provide a framework for employment of staff, and
- provide a new funding formula for colleges.

Discussion
Mr A Gaum (NNP) asked what plans there were to retrain college staff to deliver new programmes, and whether Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) funds would be used for education and training purposes. Regarding National Curriculum Statements (NCS) implementation, he questioned whether training would "really be sufficient", whether trainer capacity would be adequate, how many assessment tasks there were per learning area and whether the exit exam (matriculation) would remain.

Ms H Zille (DA) asked whether the research audit would look at economic trends, whether plans for redress would extend to staff, whether the funding allocated would address lack of alignment, outdated equipment etc, on what basis race would be classified. Regarding the FET presentation, she noted that the NCS made greater cognitive demands and queried whether teachers and trainers could meet these increased demands. She was glad that the higher education (HE) sector had been consulted about matric exams and wondered if they would accept it.

Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC) asked whether textbook delivery was being monitored.

Ms Vinjevold admitted that college staff training for the new programmes was a challenge. The new programmes were currently offered, but not at the "new, high, modern" level and the staff who offered them were preparing to be endorsed in 2006, with the help of writing teams who were available online.

Some colleges received more funding from SETAs than from the Department but rural colleges especially had not made adequate progress in accessing these funds. A difficulty was that 40-60% of learners’ time in some programmes, should be in the workplace. This was inappropriate for younger learners. Some schools had already indicated that they wanted to become FET colleges and the Department was most interested in those schools whose learners were over 20 years of age. The research would look at trends in the economy.

There would always be an exit examination. Currently it counted 75% of the year mark, although it was sometimes practical. New content would be trialled in extension papers.

Ms Vinjevold acknowledged that five days of orientation training would not be enough and the Department would increase training capacity over the next three years. Teachers, however, were coping with raised assessment standards – they had done so last year despite complaints and would no doubt do so again.

Textbook delivery was being monitored stringently at every level, Mr Hindle said. He also made no apology for racial classification as the Department needed to know whether it was reaching its targets.

Mr I Vadi (ANC) said that if technical schools were classified as technical schools or FET colleges, who would then fund the reclassified college and how would this strategy differ from the Education Renewal Strategy of the previous regime? He was also concerned at the throughput rate and level of unemployment. What was the composition of governing councils and was the audit of them on course?

Ms Nhlengethwa asked whether there would be forestry training colleges in Mpumalanga. Mr Vadi added that courses seemed mostly biased towards work in urban areas; he asked for details of agricultural colleges.

Ms Vinjevold answered that recapitalisation was about improving outputs (employment and the throughput rate) by modernising and improving the sector. College enrolments had increased because of an influx of poorer learners but colleges, unlike HE institutions, had not provided learner support.

The audit of governing councils would be completed later in the year. Business umbrella bodies had offered to participate and community representation was being sought.

Policy on technical schools was needed. The Department wanted them to be public ordinary schools, not offering the N1, but other vocational subjects, and to fund them according to how many vocational subjects they offered. The Department would also develop a new funding formula, with weightings for poverty and outputs, for colleges, although colleges could still get SETA funding.

Any team could develop a learning programme and the Department would support them, even financially as it wanted 40 by 2006.

Mr Hindle said that the Educational Renewal Strategy had a technical focus but the current programmes were for high-level skills and also the technical aspects were not separated from the social ones.

Plans for agricultural colleges were not yet finalised. Current programmes were at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Level Four and they should, perhaps, offer FET level courses.

The Committee then made arrangements for their visits to colleges, with the Department agreeing to prepare a resource pack to inform their visits.

The meeting was adjourned.

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