IDP Education Australia on Educational Projects with South Africa; Improvement of Matric Results for 2001:briefing

Basic Education

11 June 2001
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Meeting report

 

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
12 June 2001
IDP EDUCATION AUSTRALIA ON EDUCATIONAL PROJECTS WITH SOUTH AFRICA; IMPROVEMENT OF MATRIC RESULTS FOR 2001: BRIEFING


Chairperson: Prof S Mayatula

Documents handed out:
IDP Education Australia
Improvement of Learner Performance in Grades 10-12 for 2001

SUMMARY
In terms of the "Links Programme" linkages have been established between the education sectors of South Africa and Australia. As the programme has succeeded in building capacity for education and training in South Africa, the representatives from Institutional Developments Projects Education Australia are attempting to find ways to sustain the programme beyond its completion in 2003.

The second half of the meeting focused on the improvement of learner performance in Grades 10 to 12 for 2001. The Department official dealt with their successes and failures to date. Some of the major shortcomings were shown to be incompetent principals and lack of commitment on the part of educators. The Department has however recommended ways in which the shortcomings could be dealt with.

MINUTES
IDP Education Australia
The Chief Executive of Institutional Developments Projects (IDP) Education Australia, Ms L Hyam said that they had held a series of meetings with the local education Departments over the previous ten days. The presentation was a follow-up to the meetings held with the Committee in Australia last year in which they had shared experiences and suggested strategies and solutions.

In terms of the Links programme linkages have been established between the education sectors of the two countries. This programme was funded by the Australia Aid Organisation. The programme however ends in 2003, as funding will be diverted to Further and Technical Education. The aim of the presentation was to get the Committee to assist in finding ways to sustain the programme beyond its completion. The presenters, Ms Hyam and Ms R Stokes went on to demonstrate how IDP has strong links with and is impacting positively on the South African Higher Education Sector.

They emphasised the importance of continuing these links well beyond the end of the programme by focusing on how further collaboration could assist with South Africa’s education and training capacity. The aim would be to build capacity for young academic staff through the programme. This improved capacity for education and training would be achieved by focusing on:
-Co-operating in priority education and training
-Other sector development through education
-The scheme of work experience for young South Africans in other countries to contribute to growth in the South African community.
-Higher Education business round table
-Funding options.

The presenters read the document (See Appendix) to the Committee after which a discussion followed.

Discussion
Mr R Ntuli (DP) asked what the IDP contributed to teacher training taking into account that South Africa's resource capacity is so different to Australia’s. The use of English serves as a teaching barrier which affects performance in Science and Mathematics. Information on resources was required to improve performance in Mathematics and Science.

Ms Hyam responded that determining the resources available for the purpose of Mathematics and Science had not been their focus. This requires a direct study involving the evaluation of critical standards as was done in Thailand.

Ms D Nhlendgethwa (ANC) asked how many South Africans were trained and whether they in turn were training others.

Ms Stokes said that this was difficult to say as they had followed the approach of training the trainer. In addition, the numbers involved are very large. Training was done in South Africa and that the persons who were trained went out into the communities and trained others.

Mr Geldenhuys (NNP) asked whether work had been done with South African Mathematics and Science teachers.

Ms Stokes replied that only one project had focused on the training of these teachers. This project had involved the Universities of South Australia and Fort Hare. It had impacted mainly on the Eastern Cape but these teachers would, in turn, train other teachers.

Mr Geldenhuys asked if business would be brought into the programme.

Ms Hyam admitted that this was a gap that needed to be addressed. This would not be very difficult to achieve as many large bodies in South Africa had already expressed an interest in the programme.

An ANC member asked whether the playing fields were being leveled when dealing with the historically disadvantaged schools.

Ms Stokes said that this was the whole focus of the programme. In order for a programme to obtain funding, it had to focus on the question of redress. However, the focus had not been overtly on disadvantaged institutions. There were many institutions which had not had any international exposure despite the fact that they were not of the ‘previously disadvantaged institutions’.

Improvement of Learner Performance in Grades 10 to 12 for 2001
The Department official, Mr. Lehoko read through the document and emphasised the following:

The Minister had in 1999 promised an annual improvement of 5% per annum in the Senior Certificate results. This led to the establishment of a National Forum for Learner Performance (NFLP). The focus was on Grades 10 to 12 as one cannot just focus on Grade 12 as intervention may at this point be too late.

He referred to the figures dealing with the performance of schools for 1999 and 2000 that were attached to their presentation document as Annexures A and B. In 1999, 55 schools in the country had a 0% pass rate. Due to the intervention in 2000, the number of schools, which fell into 0% -20% pass rate category, was reduced from 1036 to 558. However, of these 558 schools many had previously shown a higher pass rate but had deteriorated despite the intervention. It was discovered that the schools that fell into the 0%-20% category were predominantly located in the rural areas and these were mostly in the former Bantustans. Often they were situated in clusters very close to each other.

The objectives formulated at the NFLP in January 2001 include:
A 5% increase in the candidates who pass Senior Certificate with endorsement . who may attend university.
By focusing on students obtaining distinctions, those who are already performing well can be rewarded.

Provincial Improvement Strategies
-As part of the provincial improvement strategies there will be a national Senior Certificate examination in the following subjects for the first time in 2001: Biology, Mathematics, Physical Science, Accounting, English second language and Geography.
-With regard to certain disadvantaged students, the problem with Mathematics was found to be the language and terminology and not the concepts. Assistance will therefore be provided to learners who are not English mother-tongue speakers.
-The reason for the compulsory preparatory exam for Grade 12’s is that many learners face a three-hour exam for the first time when they sit for the Senior Certificate exam.
-The common papers at district level for Grade 10 and 11’s set benchmarks so as to ensure that there is not a 50% pass rate in Grade 11 followed by a 5% pass rate in Grade 12.

Provincial Visits by Monitoring Teams: These ensure that the plans that have been developed are implemented.

Positive observations: There are many winter schools offering extra tuition. The focus in one OFS district is on feeder schools and not just on secondary schools.

Shortcomings: There are still about 3000 acting principals. Outcomes-based education focuses on teachers and not really on principals while poor management by principals is one of the biggest problems. Educators lacked commitment to their work.

Recommendations: The appointment of competent principals is vital. The Department should meet with teacher unions who are opposed to classroom visits. Senior Management Teams should be taught how to pack a timetable so that learners have fewer free periods. Circuit/ District/ Regional support to schools should be improved.

He stated that the definition of a ‘district’ cannot be found in legislation. Thus, it is not possible to determine the capacity required in a district.

Discussion
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) said that the Department has very little influence on districts with regard to policy. If the Department wishes to have any impact it should not create unnecessary bureaucracy. Thus there is a need to review regions as one has to determine if one is duplicating by having both districts and regions. He suggested the removal of regions if the district system is introduced.

Mr. Lehoko said that most provinces are doing away with regional offices. They are now left with one ‘mega-district’. This has however created a management problem.

Mr. Moonsamy commended national question papers in certain subjects.

Mr Lehoko stated that in each year an additional paper would be added to the five papers on a rotational basis. Thus, Geography would be written this year in addition to the five mentioned earlier. Next year the Department may decide to add History to the list.

Mr Ntuli (DP) criticised the Department for employing persons as acting principals for a period of two years. People were either capable or not and the decision to give them a position of principal should be made on this basis.

A member asked what was done in cases where teachers were found guilty of misconduct.

Mr Lehoko replied that the discipline of teachers is being examined.

Ms P Mnandi (ANC) asked how the Department is dealing with the effects of violence in the provinces as it impacts heavily on learner and teacher performances.

Mr Lehoko stated that it is easier to change a township than a school. Thus, in certain areas the Department has attempted to get social workers, police and other role players to sign a pledge to improve schools in their areas. The process has however been cumbersome.

Ms E Gandhi (ANC) suggested that the Department needs to outline what classroom inspection involves.

Ms Gandhi asked what CASS means.

Mr Lehoko said that it refers to ‘Continuous Assessment’ which constitutes 25% of the overall pass requirement.

Ms Gandhi referred to complaints in the constituencies that teachers often take leave to write exams while learners are in the midst of exams. Could the Department make arrangements with universities to ensure that the exams of teachers and learners coincide?

Ms P Mnandi (ANC) asked how the Department has dealt with the challenges with regard to teacher training.

Mr Lehoko said that the ongoing professional development of teachers is emphasised by the Department. The Department is trying to ensure that it does not take place at the expense of the learners.

Ms Gandhi referred to the poor results obtained at rural schools. She suggested that the Department should look at the relevance of the syllabus. In addition, the different experiences of these learners should be taken into account in order to bring familiar concepts into teaching. In Arts and Culture meetings it was found that the use of Indigenous Knowledge Systems yielded much better results than the use of unfamiliar concepts.

Mr Lehoko agreed and stated that the use of the Indigenous Knowledge System has been recommended and is being considered.

Mr L Maphoto (ANC) referred to cases where jobs were given to persons speaking foreign languages e.g. French. He suggested that these languages be included in school curricula.

Mr Lehoko agreed that foreign languages would be useful but said that this has to be balanced against the idea that each person should at least be able to speak one African language.

The meeting was adjourned.

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