Draft Curriculum Statement; Grade R to 9 for Schools: briefing

Basic Education

18 September 2001
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Meeting report


18 September 2001

Chairperson: Prof S M Mayatula

Relevant documents:

Draft Revised National Curriculum Statement

The Department emphasised that the revised curriculum was merely a revised version of Curriculum 2005. The Department had attempted to maintain stability and continuity in the process of introducing these changes.

The Department focused on the problems with the old Curriculum 2005 and dealt with the terms of reference provided by the Council of Education Ministers and Cabinet. There was a great emphasis on teacher orientation and teacher training.

The Department also dealt with the foci and outcomes of the various learning areas.

Mr D Hindle (Deputy Director General of Department of Education and Training) stated that curriculum review processes were part of any normal functioning education system. The process entails reflecting on the current curriculum and introducing changes. In this process the Department has focused on maintaining a balance between stability and progress, as well as between continuity and change. They have tended to lean toward maintaining stability and continuity when drafting the revised curriculum. It is important to note that the principles of Curriculum 2005 (C2005) are still in place, e.g. the focus is still on outcomes-based education.

The time frames and the extent of the support given to teachers and practitioners will impact on the implementation of the revised C2005.

Presentation by the Chair of the Ministerial Project Committee
Prof L Chisholm read through the presentation document focusing on the following:

C2005 and the National Curriculum Statement
C2005 Review Highlights:
-Too many design features and not enough specification by grade
-Complex terminology complicating translation into classroom
-Curriculum overload in terms of learning areas and design
-Rushed implementation

Terms of Reference provided by The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) in June 2001:
-National Curriculum Statement
-Plan for implementation
-Special attention to history and environmental education

Terms of Reference provided by Cabinet in July 2001:
-A National Curriculum Statement, which deals with the curriculum requirements at various levels, must be drafted.
-Such a statement must also address curriculum overload and describe the kind of learner that is expected at the end of his/her schooling.

The Department's Brief therefore focused on:
-A National Curriculum Statement, which deals with the curriculum requirements at various levels.
-History and Environmental education
-Plan for Implementation

1.Draft Revised National Curriculum Statement:
One Overview
> Eight Learning Area Statements: Mathematics, Languages, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts and Culture, Economic and Management Sciences, Technology, Life Orientation
> Qualification Framework

2.Kind Of Learner Envisaged
The Constitution is the foundation. The curriculum will create a citizen for a democratic South Africa who will possess various skills. These skills would include the ability to communicate and work effectively, solve problems, organise and manage activities, work with information, in teams, use science and technology, and be curious, critical, adaptable, multi-skilled, accountable, and socially aware.

3.History And Environmental Education
There will be two separate curricula for history and geography. History focuses on developing a historical consciousness. The study of history gives rise to a sense of belonging and illustrates to the learner his place in the community, in South Africa, in Africa and in the world at large. Environmental education is cross-curricular.

4. Reduction of Overload
This could be achieved by reducing complexity of curriculum. They also focused on time allocation, which refers to the learning area, which should receive more time. Here national priorities are taken into account, e.g. 40% of the time should be devoted to Literacy, 35% to Numeracy and 25% to Life Skills.
Learning Programme guidelines were also introduced.

Main Themes: Synergy with the Manifesto
-Social justice, equity, development. The curriculum could serve as a key part of solving the problem of social injustice.
-National identity-This could be provided by subjects like History.
-Gender and anti-racism-The Human Rights Commission headed a working group, which ensured that nothing discriminatory was included in the curriculum.
-Multilingualism-The Languages Learning Area Statement focuses on home languages, the first additional language and the second additional language.
-Reading, writing and thinking- The Languages Learning Area Statement ensures that the learner is introduced to different kinds of texts and is able to think critically.
-Mathematics and Sciences-The response has been very positive.
-Indigenous knowledge and culture-This is to be taken seriously in all parts of the curriculum, e.g. In terms of the Mathematics Learning Area Statement, a grade four learner should be able to describe the different ways of counting in different cultures and during various periods of history.
-History and historical consciousness
-Religion and not Religious Education-The focus would not be to teach a child about a particular religion or how to be a good Christian or Muslim, etc. Instead the aim is to make the learner aware of the different values across the world.
-Sport and nation-building
-HIV/Aids and Sexual Responsibility
-Safety in schools and society

Learning Support Materials
Policy to be developed in:
-Approved national structure for a Quality Assurance list
-Budgeting and effective delivery systems
-Price banding to ensure cost control and more adequate budgeting forecasts. This is because of the vast differences in the prices of learning materials.
-Ways to assess use of existing C2005 materials

Teacher Orientation
There will be a distinction between orientation, development and education. At this stage training is no longer focused on familiarising teachers with the outcomes-based education, as this has already been done. The focus can be on the development of teachers in this regard.

What does the National Curriculum Statement try to do?
-Encourage creativity of teachers while providing clear principles and guidelines for teachers working in difficult conditions
-Address country’s priorities clearly and simply
-Make good use of Outcomes- based Education

Mr R Ntuli (DP) said that the outcomes-based education is already being implemented in Grade 7 and Grade 8. He asked if this means that this system would then fall away in 2004 when the old C2005 becomes inoperative.

Mr L Mphahlele (Chief Education Specialist, National Centre for Curriculum Research and Development) replied that the system would not fall away. Instead the training of teachers will be revised in 2004 to accommodate this situation.

Mr Ntuli asked whether teacher training would take place in the holiday or after school hours.

Prof Chisholm replied that there had been great resistance to the idea of a weeklong workshop, which would mean teachers would have to remain absent from school.

Mr L Green (ACDP) said that many schools taught learners from a particular worldview, such as from a Christian viewpoint. Since the Constitution guarantees respect for religion and religious freedom, he asked whether parents could be given a choice in the worldview from which the learner is educated. He added that what was being introduced was religion of neutrality.

Ms S Hendricks (Director, Schools; Head of Secretariat MPC) replied that the South African Schools Act allows the school's governing body to decide the religion being taught at a school. The curriculum does not promote religious neutrality. Instead it exposes learners to a variety of religions. If parents wanted their children to learn about a specific religion it would have to take place after school hours. The Minister is expected to announce a policy on the issue of religion soon.

Mr Green referred to the decision that private schools no longer are subject to an independent curriculum. He had been under the impression that the constitution stated that the standard of the syllabus could be prescribed but not its content.

Ms Hendricks stated that issues of policy were dealt with in the National Education Policy Act. The standard and content of the curriculum are set out in two separate Acts.

Mr S Ntuli (ANC) asked what happens when teachers resist change and refuse to comply with the new curriculum and to implement new ideas, e.g. where schools are still referring to the prefect system, which differs fundamentally in context to Learner Representative Councils.

Ms Hendricks said that the Department often did not have the type of teachers who could produce the type of learner envisaged. The solution would therefore be to prepare teachers. The first step is the National Teachers' Development Conference. Here the focus would be on the strategies and procedures involved in the process of in-service training. The strategies would have to be linked with the policy, i.e. the educators' norms and standards. If teachers refuse to comply, they can be reported in terms of quality assurance mechanisms.

Mr L Mbadi (UDM) said that despite the move toward a single system of education, there are still divisions in terms of delivery. Some groups remain disadvantaged compared to others, e.g. The remote rural areas receive their learning materials very late as transport to these areas is very difficult. He asked what the Department was doing about this. In addition, the inaccessibility of these areas means that it is often impossible for teachers in these areas to attend the training.

Mr Mphahlele replied that this concern had been raised previously in departmental discussions. The aim is that certain learning outcomes have to be achieved by all learners. This represents the benchmark that has to be attained. By the end of the year there will be policy guidelines on the issue of learning materials in the provinces. The Department will develop ways to meet the needs arising from different contexts so that the Eastern Cape is able to meet the challenges that any ex-Model C school does.

Mr I Vadi (ANC) asked if this was a new curriculum or an extension of the old C2005. He suggested that it should be packaged as a new curriculum as the old C2005 had given rise to much negativity.

Mr Hindle replied that the curriculum is still C2005 as the fundamentals are still in place. It would be disastrous to send a message that schools are to forget everything introduced in terms of C2005. As he had stated earlier, stability and continuity were vital in this process.

Mr Moonsamy asked which learning areas would receive emphasis with regard to time allocation.

Prof Chisholm referred members to the section of the presentation document dealing with time allocation.

Mr Moonsamy asked how the Department was dealing with the 85 000 unqualified teachers.

The Department has developed a strategy to get under-qualified teachers to the level of a person with matric plus three years.

Mr Ntuli (DP) was of the opinion that teacher training should be done in the holidays as teachers must be thoroughly grounded in the new curriculum.

Prof Chisholm said that there was a shift from the docile and compliant teacher (of the apartheid era) to a creative, innovative, resourceful and critical teacher (in terms of the new curriculum). One cannot expect to change a lifetime of practice in one to two weeks. It may be possible to do orientation in a short space of time, but it is important to focus on the long term. Giving teachers two weeks in which to learn the requirements of C2005 would be a great burden.

The Chair said that he agreed with Mr R Ntuli as a weeklong workshop would provide a sense of urgency and would therefore encourage implementation.

Prof Chisholm explained that the weeklong workshop was an example of the cascade model, which had received much resistance from teachers. There are other models, e.g. the spiral model, which focuses more on the long term. They have opted for a reduced cascade model, as it is still important to focus on the long term.

The foci of the different learning areas
Prof Chisholm read the document dealing with the foci and outcomes of the following learning areas: Languages, Mathematics, the Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Arts and Culture, Life Orientation, Economic and Management Sciences and Technology.

Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) asked how all eleven official languages could possibly receive attention in the classroom.

Prof Chisholm explained that this provision of the Language Learning Area Statement just served as a guide. The interpretation depends on the school and its governing body.

Ms M Njobe (ANC) said that many rural schools are being taught science while learners have never even seen a test tube. Since many schools have no laboratories, she asked if science would be taught in all schools or in certain schools only.

Mr Mphahlele replied that there are new learning outcomes for the study of science. Previously the performance of experiments had not been a prerequisite. However, now there are certain assessment standards that have to be met. The state therefore has to provide the resources to enable learners to conduct experiments.

Ms Njobe stated that emphasis should be placed on producing teachers who are well trained in using support materials from the outset, at college level. In this way less emphasis needs to be placed on developing skills at a later stage.

Prof Chisholm agreed that this training needs to be institutionalised but stated that provision has to be made for those teachers who had already completed their training.

Ms Njobe referred to an article in the Daily Dispatch, which is a newspaper published in the Eastern Cape. The article had been written by a home schooling organisation and stated that the Minister was imposing his beliefs on people by virtue of the C2005.

Prof Chisholm replied that this viewpoint was to be expected from home schooling movement. The Minister would probably respond to the article. She was unable to respond to the article, as she had not read it.

Mr S Ntuli asked what the Department could do about the security of learning materials such as computers.

Ms Hendricks answered that the Department is identifying vulnerable schools and developing policies and criteria on the issue. Once all vulnerable schools have been identified, the MEC's will determine if the policies and criteria have been complied with.

Ms Gandhi asked if the time allocated to the study of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS) is sufficient given the vast amount of information covered by this learning area.

Prof Chisholm responded that the time allocation had been done on the basis of national priority. There is also much overlap between the EMS curriculum and the Mathematics curriculum. It often depends more on the quality of the curriculum than the time spent on it.


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